Giving Thanks

Here is the day of giving thanks, and I know so many of you are exhausted or disgusted or both, but I feel so profoundly appreciative despite my sadness and frustration and honestly, my outright expectation of gloom, that I needed to note the things in the world that don’t suck.

First, to my mom and grandma who cooked and cleaned and managed the shit out of Thanksgiving Day for my giant family, extended family, invited and loved guests, and anyone who dined at our table. I didn’t know then how much you gave or how much it was worth, and I’m profoundly indebted to your graciousness and service. So many Thanksgivings, so many complicated memories, and they were all inspired and built on the work you did. I can’t even comprehend your beauty or your motivation.

To my queer community, who know firsthand what brutal times we’re living in, and who go on, every goddamn day, to bring peace and light and less shame to all of the souls in this world: thank you for your leadership, your guidance, and your friendship.

My friends of color: you bring all of the things all of the time and I don’t really understand how or why, but you do, and you are life. Thank you.

To my fellow politicos, who run for office or who get out the vote or who do whatever you think is right for our democracy (whatever of it still exists), thank you for believing in a system that so often doesn’t seem up to your faith in it.

My wife, of course, because she is magical and kind of like a unicorn except when she’s a beautiful, tired, exhausted draft horse who just keeps on keeping on and brings joy to everyone who sees her and knows her.

To my fellow artists who seek truth and beauty and honesty and decadence and all the other things that are good in this world — especially those things that aren’t recognized as good at all.

To my students, present and past and future: thank you for worrying about me. When nothing else seems real, your respect for me and what I do absolutely does.

Thank you to the trans community for never, ever pretending not to be broken. You have no idea what you’ve meant to me. With every moment of clarity, of loneliness, of euphoria and sadness, you bring something incredible to the world, to my world. Thank you for trusting me.

Right now I am thankful for anyone who understands that kindness is power, that truth is difficult, that being who you are and what you are is both the most complicated and liberating thing in the world.

Do the good thing, do the kind thing, do the just thing. And every day give thanks that you can.

Love to you all.

A Year

Last year on May 19th, my mom died at the age of 86 on what would have been my father’s 88th birthday.

Here they are being about as much as a 1950s couple from Brooklyn it is possible to be.

I miss them both so much.

The First Year Without

I was going to wait to post this on the first anniversary of my mother’s death, but I know so many of you out there who are missing your moms today – whether it’s your first mother’s day without her or your 20th – so I wanted to share this to say: I see you. I know. I’m not really sure how I’ve survived this year but you fellow sufferers have been particularly helpful. A special big bunch of love to Ade & Hanna for having been so tender with me.

You don’t always make the best decisions in the wake of a death. Sometimes you have sex with someone you’ll never have sex with again because it seems like he right thing to do. You might drink too much. You might spend too much money on clothes or dye your hair a new color or get a tattoo. You might decide you’re working in the wrong industry all together and quit your job or move clear across the country.

You might sit in your room at 3AM and watch Deep Space 9 for 4 hours solid.

You might wonder about that guy you dumped 25 years ago and wonder, too, how it was you managed to keep sleeping with him despite your inability to agree with him about anything and realize you haven’t had sex that good since then. Nearly, in some instances, but not.

You might surprise yourself by spending an hour digging out your middle school yearbook only to remember when you’re shoulder deep in boxes sitting half in and half out of your closet that you lost that particular yearbook years ago.

You might wonder if your mom got buried with that ring she found that she was convinced he’d bought her for Christmas that year but that you were convinced he’d bought for their 60th anniversary which he didn’t make it to.

You wonder whether or not you will be younger or older than your mother when she gave up on living.

You wonder how it is she didn’t remember the entire year after her husband died, and you wonder if you’ll remember this year that’s now ending. You are pretty sure you don’t want to.

You stop dead in the street when you see a cardinal in a tree. You try to remember what that means and in what culture it means it. It’s a sign that your loved one is nearby, but is that in some symbolic sense, or is the cardinal supposed to be some reincarnated version of your loved one? Are cardinals always representatives of dead people, or are they just birds sometimes? Because I live where they live so either I’m being plagued by dead people or it’s just spring where I live.

You eat whatever you feel like eating. A muffin for dinner seems reasonable. A turkey pot pie for breakfast is also reasonable.

You work out in a regimented, unenthusiastic way but discover after four weeks that you can actually do 100 pushups, that it worked, but you don’t really care of feel any sense of accomplishment.

You feel disposable.

You wonder when someone tells you that you look beautiful whether or not they can tell you’re dead inside, too, or if being dead inside is part of what makes you beautiful.

You remember every disappointment, every betrayal; every loss from a death reminds you of 15 other losses; that guy who said he’d be there for you but who wasn’t there for you once you weren’t sleeping with him, OR the guy who was there for you but who wasn’t after he realized you wanted to sleep with him.

You save muffin wrappers for your old cat who has discovered an explicable joy in muffin wrapper licking.

You drink too much.

You wonder if you think about your mom being dead too much, enough, or not enough. You wonder if you have unresolved feelings about her even though you’ve spent most of your life realizing unresolved feelings for her.

You think about the joy on her face when she gave you your first bike.

You think about that really terrible jacket she gave you for Christmas one year, a jacket so horrendous you checked the tag on the present in hopes that you’d mistakenly opened someone else’s present because please god let no one who loves me think I would like that horrible jacket. You remember your sister watching you try to surreptitiously check the tag from across the room and how she tried to stifle her laughter while you calmly put the jacket back in the box and hoped that no one else saw any of that.

You wonder if that guidance counselor who asked your mother if you were in a cult because you were wearing African mask earrings is still asking parents stupid shit like that. Your mother bought you the earrings, of course.

You wonder if you will ever stop feeling sad.

You wonder if the friends who are there for you are there because they like you or because they feel bad for you.

You wonder if people who really like and admire you are just deluded and whether their feelings for you would be the same if they knew how you spend your time alone.

You wonder if now, with both parents dead, there is some astonishing reality about yourself you are about to uncover. You hope there is. You hope there isn’t.

You think about calling or emailing someone who really let you down to give them what-for.

You listlessly scroll down Facebook liking everything and posting dumb comments or you listlessly scroll down Facebook wondering why people spend so much time on really dumb shit.

You wake up, as if from a trance, after watching 20 minutes of goat videos. You do not feel better, but you are sure you do like goats.

You wonder if your cats can tell when the dead are visiting and simply choose not to notice them or inform you that they are present. Occasionally you are certain they can see the ghost of your loved one right behind your head because they are obviously staring at something that is just to the left of your right ear.

You assume that other people maybe don’t have as much sexual regret in their lives or that they have a lot more or that for some people sadness doesn’t mean reexamining your sexual orientation, your sexual choices, or excoriating yourself for not sleeping with that very cute woman when you could have. She wanted you. You were scared she wanted a girlfriend. You couldn’t be her girlfriend so you didn’t sleep with her but you wonder if you should have anyway and whether you really should stop considering every last ethical ramification of every possible flirtation, crush, or love affair you’ve ever had.

You wonder if there is anyone in the world who might understand how it feels to hear your mom’s voice on your voicemail still, her beautiful singsongy way of talking, the message she left you only a week or so before she died. You are still amazed at how much she radiated happiness on the phone even when she wasn’t, and how, when you were a kid, she could go from screaming about what a mess this place is to answering the phone with the joy and melody of a bluebird as if she had become a different person in that split second.

You realize you will never hear her say anything new again to you. She won’t see any of the new clothes you just ordered online. But you’re happy she did see that you finally found the perfect raincoat and that a year later you still love it.

You wonder if anyone knows that you kept your hair blue for a year because it was the last color she saw it. No one would have noticed if you’d worn black every day. You know she would appreciate you taking the time to live out this Catholic rite even if it was with blue hair instead of black clothes. You know she would especially like that because she especially liked you.

You wonder if you remember the rosary and if it really would make you feel any better as she insisted it would so many times in your life. Your grandmother did, too, and you wonder how long she’s been dead because once you’re mourning your parents every ghost of your life pays a short visit at least once. It feels like there’s a party but everyone at it is a dead person you’re only remembering.  You don’t even bother to try to find the rosary she left you.

Here is the blanket my grandma crocheted. Here are my mom’s pajamas I wore when I slept in her assisted living facility with her. Here is my father’s sweater which is still surprisingly cooler than almost every other sweater I own.

You don’t clean the catboxes as often as you should and you don’t clean the house ever except for every once in a while when you realize you have to clean something because you have no idea what is clean and what isn’t. You do the bare minimum which is even less than what the bare minimum used to be.

You take a lot of baths or you forget to bathe for days at a time and then having to try to remember when you last took a bath as if the difference between 3 or 4 days ago is somehow not negligible. If you realize it’s only been 3 you decide you can wait another day. You come to all the same conclusions a day later because memory is no longer your strong suit and you walk around on a lot of Wednesdays thinking it’s Tuesday and vice versa.

You become certain that taking a probiotic/vitamin C/valerian/fish oil/whatever really has made a difference in your health.

You say “I hate children” with a hint of rage even though you don’t actually mean it and regret it for weeks and wonder if you should explain that you really don’t to the person you said it to or if that would be protesting too much. It’s not children, anyway, it’s how sticky they are and how the world revolves around them that you hate. You decide to explain what mourning is like to that person who you told you hated children to so that they can realize you’re just full blown crazy. You add a smiley face to the email as if that will make you seem less crazy though the opposite is probably true.

You wonder again about unresolved issues.

You can’t seem to fake a smile or even work up the energy for anger, your most stalwart emotion. You feel mean and unapologetically so except the next day when you wish you could be a nicer more upbeat person.

You realize no one wants to have sex with a sad person, not even you.

You wonder why so many people like Klingons so much when they’re just so patriarchal.

Robin Williams was once told that coke makes you more like yourself and so asked, “but what if you’re an asshole?”  Mourning is the same as coke, then.

You know you’re fine especially when you aren’t at all.

I still don’t know how to do this, to live in a world where the woman with the brightest voice and the brightest smile who was fearful in a way that made her so old and yet gave you a glimpse into how she must have been when she was 7 is dead. I am still in that room with her, sitting and holding hands with her, the TV on or off, the trees and flowers blooming outside as she lay dying in the spring. She loved spring so much but the sun on her face almost hurt her skin at the end, and the cool breeze was an affront that no sweater could ameliorate.

She was already in mourning the whole time I was waiting to be.

I am pretty sure I don’t know how to do this and probably never will. I am also sure I will be doing this for the rest of my life in one way or another.

Tomboys, Gender Non Conformity, & Trans Identity

A few more thoughts about that NYT tomboy article, the various rebuttals, and my post from yesterday.

I have to own that I wanted that mom to be right. For starters, because the world is transphobic and I am too – not because I mean to be but because it’s so easy to be so. It’s how the world is structured.

For example, some folks immediately objected to my using ‘he’ pronouns for this child, but only trans people objected to the child being referred to as ‘she’. And I think that’s precisely because most people still think biology is destiny, and thinking the child’s gender assignment at birth is more natural than the child being trans is, basically, transphobic.

Any assumption that the child being a trans boy is a worse or ‘less real’ outcome than the child being a tomboy is also transphobic.

While all of that may or may not have caused me to be cheering on this tomboy, it’s way more than that, too.

What was disappointing about that article is the way she presented trans and GNC as if they are mutually exclusive opponents of some kind. They are not.

The thing is, I want company. I’ve been gender non conforming in one way or another for most of my life; even when I was as feminine as I could manage – and I tried, I swear I tried – I was often assumed to be a lesbian. These days, when people know that me or my wife is trans, they assume I’m the trans one — though I’m honestly never clear which direction they think I’ve gone/am going in, to be honest. I’m personally thankful that the trans movement has made my own liminally trans/GNC gender a little more legible, but as a result I face another dilemma: people assume I’m trans because I’m GNC.

And that’s the nut of why I and so many others wanted that mom to be both honest and right: because gender non conformity is policed all the time, and it seems sad that the only way to convince others that your gender non conforming behavior or appearance is real is to identify as trans yourself. Gender stereotypes and gender role enforcement are bullshit for everyone whether you’re trans or not trans. A trans woman feeling forced to be stereotypically feminine is as bullshit as a non trans woman who experiences the same patriarchal pressure.

Here’s the thing: I know I’m not trans. Some crossdressers know they aren’t. For the same reasons we trust trans people to know their own gender identities, we know what ours are too. And mine just isn’t binary or nameable or whatever. Sometimes I like Ursula LeGuin’s “bad man” idea. Other times I remember I produce more testosterone than most people born with ovaries. I also choose not to identify as trans because I am married to my wife, who did transition, and who lives with a world of bullshit that I do not. That is, I don’t identify as trans because I respect the authority of the people who I know to be trans, and I am sure my experience is nothing like theirs. That is, I have cis(sexual) privilege, despite not being normatively gendered.

I really shouldn’t even have to explain that but I feel, often, that I do. I’m not trans because I’m not, just as my wife is trans because she is.

But right now my gender identity (GNC) and her gender identity (trans) are supposed to be part of the same big trans umbrella. Originally the word transgender was meant to be an inclusive term that included transsexual people (along with many others) but transgender has since supplanted transsexual and now that it’s been shortened to trans that’s even more true.

To explain: the definition of transsexual was, in the first place, meant to describe people who had pursued medical/legal/social transition. Transgender was supposed to enlarge and expand that, to include those who couldn’t medically transition or to cover those who were socially dysphoric but not body dysphoric, etc. So it’s awesome that we have an expanded sense of what trans is except that it really isn’t. The thing is, almost every visible trans person is not only transitioned, but they are usually and often binary transitioners (meaning they go from people who are assigned one gender at birth who live as the “opposite” gender after transition). As a result, transgender often effectively means transsexual, even though we don’t use the latter term much at all anymore. The umbrella has collapsed, where every other version of trans that isn’t transition has become ‘less than’.

As many genderqueer, non binary, gender fluid, gender non conforming people, crossdressers, drag queens, sissies and tomboys will tell you: when we don’t claim big umbrella trans it’s because trans is also policed, and only those who choose either binary or medical/legal/social transition are considered truly trans. As another piece explains well, it’s really as if cis/trans has become the next binary, or an emerging binary, except that I’m not entirely sure who’s supposed to be on which side.

So that’s why I don’t identify as trans. I use “gendery” because it seems more accurate. I have a lot of gender(s), and some of them are visible and available all the time and some of them come and go. I was a tomboy as a kid.

What we’re left with, really, is a problem, and perhaps the biggest unspoken wish when I was reading that tomboy article: not only do I want company, but I want to BE, and so do a whole bunch of people like me. And while it’s true that many trans people are open to the idea of others being GNC, I’m not really sure we’re considered real, not by anyone, actually, trans or cis alike.

The reality is that trans people are FAR more comfortable with gender non conforming people than cis people are. There is no trans agenda that “encourages” children to transition. But I’d argue that transphobia is itself the reason that people may want gender non conforming children to transition or for adults who are NB to “choose one or the other” (as if there are only two). Trans/cis is not a particularly useful binary for those of us who aren’t either, exactly; I’ve written before about being cissexual but not cisgender.

Here’s the first clue: maybe a goddamned binary won’t work, because they never do.

I don’t want to feel forced to identify as trans in order for my gender to be recognized, and neither should any kid. So maybe instead of diagnosing this child, we should be thinking instead about how we make space for children and for people who are traditionally gendered or binary, those who are gender non conforming, and for those who are legally/medically trans. We can call it the gender trifecta. Trinities are always cooler than binaries anyway.

The thing is, this girl exists. This tomboy. The NYT author may have been lying or in denial or just transphobic, but even if this particular child is not a tomboy and is trans, that doesn’t mean that other tomboy isn’t out there. She is.

I was her. She is me. That child may also grow up to be a man, a gender normative woman, or any number of other gender choices. What I hope she won’t be is hostile to trans people of any stripe: this is not a contest between; it’s a distinction among. That child is the reason I’m a loud and proud trans advocate; not because I don’t believe in trans people, but because I do: I live right next door.

(much thanks to Paisley Currah and Erica Foley for providing the space and pressure to work out these ideas.)

What Comes Back

It’s been a long year of so many losses, but in a sense, this start of spring, the undoing of wintry death, reminds us too of what won’t come undone just with the passage of time, that some things, and some people, will stay dead, but that other things are still on their way, incoming bits of beauty that are awaiting just the right ray of sunshine to make their appearance known to us.

My mom loved the spring because she loved trees and plants and flowers in ways that I never really understood; she could be moved to tears at the right bud on the right flower making its way through the ground. She loved babies too, of all kinds, and I regret that she never did get to see spring in Wisconsin, the baby bunnies and baby raccoons and ducklings all in the midst of this powerful, powerful green. It’s a little overwhelming for a city kid, and my allergies are a fucking wreck, but it’s still so profound every year, the way this place comes back to life after being so frozen and so cold and so gray for months and months and months.

A former student wrote to me with doubt about writing his life with a lush mother and too many bad bedrooms of his childhood. In the context of Syria, he said, who cares about my bullshit? And you know? Sometimes all we have are the human-sized losses, the ways that we can mourn what we did have and what we never had, to remember that love for each other on the day to day is the only thing that counts.

Some days I am merely thankful that my parents are not here to see what we are doing to each other in the name of freedom and peace. MOABs bring neither, but watching out for each other on a small scale might.

Keep the faith, folks. The world is already a better place than it seems to be sometimes, and so often, good things have to hibernate or disappear in order to come back.

Baby and Bathwater

There is a tendency, I think, for those of us whose goal is creating a world that is a little more self aware of sexism, racism, transphobia, and the rest, to dismiss writers and artists based on a single opinion, utterance, work of art, song, etc.

  • Is all of Kate Bornstein’s work necessarily discredited because she defended the use of the T word?
  • Is all of Dan Savage’s work for shit because of his denial of bisexual existence and/or his transphobia? 
  • Is there any delicacy in recognizing that there was a moment in time in which being “trans amorous” was a radical and trans-positive position? 

I think about this stuff because a lot of what I’ve written over the years could be interpreted as transphobic now, or, at the very least, problematic. Some of it was at the time, too. I am not, nor have I ever been, a ‘respect your elders’ sort of person, but I’m also pretty turned off by the complete lack of historical context some seem to exist in, as if fine-tuned arguments about the nature of transphobia haven’t been happening all along: As if we didn’t debate ‘transgender’ vs ‘transgendered’. As if no one has ever called themselves a transvestite proudly. As if…

To some degree, it’s one of the reasons I feel myself not wanting to write another book about anything trans related; for starters, I think it was useful for a cis feminist liminally trans type like myself to do the work that I did at the time, but now? I think transness is in good hands for the most part, although I’m happy to pipe in when and where it’s needed.

But mostly I feel myself stymied by the idea that anything I might put into the public sphere now would be so roundly shot down on a technicality that it’s really just not worth the effort. I prefer hanging out in this tiny corner of the internet doing my thing, being read by folks who appreciate what I do, and talking to people one on one who might need some help finding resources or the like.

I’m tired of people who have opinions but who don’t do anything or create anything or legislate anything. I feel more much occupied by the work and much less interested in the debate.

Maybe it’s an older vs. younger activist sort of thing and I’m officially middle-aged, but from here on in I feel like I’m going to be asking a lot more questions of critics far and wide: well, what have you done? Who have you helped? Have you created, or tried creating, anything of lasting value? In a sense it’s an age-old problem: This doesn’t satisfy, says the critic; So what have you got? says the artist.

And out goes the bathwater, baby and all.

Working Women

This is my grandma. She was a janitor for a building in midtown, a proud 32 B/J union member, a single mom, and a survivor of domestic violence. The only day she called in sick to work was the day my sister Kathy graduated from NYU because she was the first in our family to do so.

My mother worked as a bank teller, as a cashier, in my sister’s bakery, all while raising 6 children and a grandchild. I don’t remember her ever sitting down when I was a child.

My eldest sister was the first professional woman I knew. She used to come home and hang her dry cleaning in the front hall, and those clothes always seemed to me like a passport out of the shitty part-time jobs the women in my family often had. She has supported nearly every single member of my family financially at one time or another.

My second sister owned her own bakery – working there was my part time job through high school and into college – and went on to get numerous degrees and just returned, at 53, to law school. She raised three kids solo, and now she specializes in disability rights.

My first jobs were babysitting, a newspaper route – I was one of only two girls who delivered papers, a baker’s assistant, a video store clerk, a writing tutor, a canvasser for environmental/consumer legislation, an admin, and now, an educator.

We have never been paid a dollar for a dollar’s work. 

To the working class women in my family, and in my world: thank you.

 

 

 

To You

To all you beauties out there, you courageous resisters, you brick in hand angry queerios, you who are frightened but putting your boots on anyway, and for all of you, too, who are scared to death or who can’t stop crying and who are pretty sure you really can’t do this:

Remember your body. It’s going to be fucking with you. Every little fault line you’ve got, every weakness, whether it’s a lousy appetite or bad sinuses or a serious chronic condition. Your body is going to be yelling at you. Just remember your body feels all of the feels for you. None of us us are getting very good sleep, food has gone bland, and nothing is funny. It’s okay. It’s a hard time.

However you do it, take care of your beautiful selves. You can take it. I promise you can. We’re all going to feel physically bad because we are worrying about a lot. Engage your brain when that feels better. Indulge your body when that does. Honestly, I find myself shouting with tears in my eyes. There will be no consistency of emotion, no way to process, everything is coming at us too fast. That’s intentional on their part, but we’re complicated the way all beautiful things are: you can be furious and terrified at the same time, broken by the gorgeousness of a sunset and full of rage simultaneously.

If there is anything we can do, it’s feel deeply. That’s where our politics come from. Drink deeply. Love deeply. Allow this historical moment to find how intense your emotions can be, to find where that stark skeletal core of you is.

You are made of the sternest stuff, I promise. Keep on. Almost everyone around you feels the same way right now, unaware of what you might say, scared you might start crying while you’re laughing, unable to take even the slightest reprimand or even teasing from a friend but also desperate for it. You want to hug everyone even when you want to be alone, under the covers, with the vice of your choice. Take that time when you need it too. Eat all the motherfucking chocolate. Buy the good vibrator (but don’t be surprised, either, if your libido is on overdrive or dead in the water, or, on alternating days, both.)

We can do this. It’s okay to be scared when you’re sad, okay to be angry when you’re confused, okay to be tired every single minute of the day.For my fellow punk rockers out there: this is our time. We know how to do this. Live on rage, keep it moving forward, invent anything you need. DIY and fuck the lot of them. We got this.

Fight for the person next to you who maybe isn’t as strong or just isn’t up to it right now. They’ll do the same for you. Love to you all.

Not a Temper Tantrum

 

Yesterday, I saw that a relative of mine had posted this just as I was putting my photos of the Madison rally up. I was full of love and confidence and strength, so seeing this was like a punch in the gut. So I wrote this person a letter. 

I saw your post today when I got back from the Madison march and it was like a punch to the gut. Because you’re family, and because I think you are both people who believe in love and kindness and charity, I really want to explain, if I can, what this was all about.

To me, yesterday was such a thing of beauty, and it makes me sad that you live in such a way that you can’t see it or feel it. It was like the very best church, the best picnic, the best party, all rolled into one.

I’m not sure I can ever relate how scary it’s been if you don’t feel that too. But for us, Trump is at best a bully, the kind you might have had to deal with yourselves in school and the kind you’d never want your kids to have to deal with. The stuff he’s said, the way he made fun of that reporter: I think it brought a lot of us back to a person or a time in our lives when we were made to feel afraid for being who we were. Maybe we knew what other people were making fun of. Maybe we didn’t even understand why we were being targeted. But we know the feeling of being afraid and alone in the face of a violent, mean bully, and we know how it feels to shake while you try to stand up for yourself.

And yesterday was a day when all of our friends showed up in that abandoned hallway where we’d been cornered, a day when that one kind teacher you could count on sent the bully away.

We know he’s not going anywhere. We know the bully is in charge now. We know a lot of us are going to get hurt, feel scared, and have our lunch money stolen.

In a sense, that’s all it was: just a brief pause to remind ourselves that eventually, enough of the kids who have been bullied do band together and punch back.

I’m glad if you’ve never needed that.

I’m glad for you if you’ve never experienced that.

I’m glad if it’s something none of your kids has ever faced.

I’m not going to get into the politics but I am going to say one thing: in everything I’ve been reading it seems obvious that we are all getting different information, that fake news sources are out there confirming the most extreme of what we all believe. But my request is this: don’t just laugh at us. Don’t just mock our fear and our anger. Find out what it is. Find out why we’re scared, who stands to lose rights, who is worried about their health insurance, whose marriage may be at risk, whose bodies, whose choices. We are not scared of nothing: queer folks, black folks, disabled folks, trans folks, immigrants – we face fear all the time. This is scarier than usual.

And while I’m sure, at some basic level, the differences between us are about the differences in politics – Republicans believe charity should be a private affair, and Dems feel that a government’s job is to provide care for the least able of us – I’m not sure I understand why or how anyone could laugh at a basic American right to protest, to gather, to remind ourselves that “we the people” doesn’t mean only those of us who can work or marry or bear children, doesn’t mean only the white, the straight, and the able-bodied, but all of us.

This is written in kindness, and with a hope that I might slow down your frustration and mockery of what yesterday was. I wish you could have been there. I wish you could have felt the love and the trust and the incredible feeling of community. It was amazing.

Don’t be the dwarves in The Last Battle. Come join the rest of us in Narnia. Onwards and Upwards.

Love, me

Thankful

This year it is a little harder to be thankful because of the worry in my heart and in my head. I’ve had nightmares for weeks now, and I see how utterly deflated and shattered so many people I love look. The joking on Facebook and in person all feels a little hollow, a little forced, but I’m glad for it all the time. So let me do this little thing, take the moment to see what is, what isn’t yet, what may never be.

I am thankful tonight to have been invited to a thanksgiving dinner by queer friends with their families. I am thankful to have a too-full belly, a warm house, a life companion, and four bundles of fur who share my home. I am thankful I will see more people I care about on Saturday.

I am thankful for the right to dissent.

I am thankful for the social justice activists in my life, especially the elders who haven’t lost hope and who know how to buckle down and get things done. I’m thankful for those younger than me, their energy and fire and keen sense of justice.

I am thankful for those who went to Standing Rock to support the Protectors, and I am very, very thankful for the Protectors.

I am thankful to have time to sit down and think about what I’m thankful for, that I am not so overworked that all I can do with my time off is sleep and eat.

I am thankful to have people in my life who look to me to help them through, and I am thankful for those who get me through in turn.

I am thankful for the love and support people have shown my wife as she embraces a new adventure.

I am thankful to have the memory of the decent people who raised me, my mother and father and grandmother, all of whom I miss every family holiday, but in whose memory I try to make the world a little less mean and a little less scary. I am thankful that both my parents exited this world while Obama was president, and that they were the kind of people who were overjoyed that we had managed such a remarkable thing.

I am thankful for anyone and everyone who has made room for me at their table in this place where I have no family but my wife. I am thankful for everyone who is gracious in being alone or lonely this holiday, and my heart goes out to you. I am thankful to the older man who walked by my house today, who I wished a happy thankgiving to, and who looked at the heart in my window and smiled and winked back at me.

I am thankful for all of you who have had to gather your resources and senses in the past few weeks, who have tried to understand what happened, who have called on me and others like us not to give in to despair. I am thankful for every hug offered or requested.

There are so many things to be thankful for. May we all remember in these coming months that we have enough for everyone to have a little peace and a little joy.

Happy Thanksgiving, all.