Giving Thanks, 2014 Edition

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, a day to consider how we are blessed (in a fortunate way/not simply a “Christian” way) and a day to consider – honestly – just how lucky we are.

It would be easy for me to say that 2014 has sucked so far, and ask The Universe just where the hell my “blessings” are.

In August 2014, I closed my business after almost seven years of (literally) blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. The closing of my business was a bit devastating emotionally and certainly was, and continues to be, somewhat crushing financially as well. With the closing of my business came my return to the employment market as a job SEEKER – I hadn’t “filled out an application” in more than probably twenty years; each of my jobs before opening my own business was the result of scouting by my then-future employer – I got ASKED to work with them. Reciting my high school GPA and “Other Interests” was something very alien and foreign to me.

The summer and fall of 2014, I stood by and watched as state after state achieved marriage equality, while my state CONTINUES to maintain an almost pre-Stonewall attitude around this issue. And earlier this month, somehow my state granted the madman that is our governor the power of four more years to destroy our state. And don’t even ask me about what happened in the Senate.

Probably saddest, in October of 2014, I lost my father, my beloved Pop-pop, to a long and valiant battle with cancer. I lost Grammy (my mom) six years ago and, during the time since, my Dad and I had become closer than ever; in fact, it was like getting to know him all over again. I called Pop-pop every day. I miss him, and I miss my Mom. A lot. A well-intentioned friend called me an “orphan” upon finding out my Pop-pop had passed away. I am NOT an orphan. I have two AMAZING parents – they are just away from me now, for the time being. They are now two amazing guardian angels.

Those are just the “highlights” of 2104 for me but – you know what? The year has been pretty great to me as well…

While I closed my business, I embarked on not one but TWO new endeavors, one at a cherished public institution in my adopted hometown and one in a new design venture with a new partner who is, in fact, my husband. Both careers look bright and, while I am “starting on the ground floor” at both, good things are already happening at each. Two days ago, I got promoted at “my day job” and assumed a new position within the organization, a position that suggests career growth and a stable, secure future. As far as my new design venture goes, working with my life partner/husband is a joy and our new firm is already developing a following. Hooray!

Even though Ohio (my state) is in The Dark Ages as far as marriage equality goes, I am legally-married to my husband and we will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of his Green Card approval (that was a L-O-N-G journey/struggle, chronicled in many previous posts here on this blog). If it is possible, I think that guy loves me more every day – and I love him more, too. Eventually, Ohio will “see the light” and finally join the 21st Century with regard to LGBT rights and equality.

Finally, while I miss BOTH my parents every day, I am happy to know that they are reunited and happy. And contrary to what I feared, being “parent-less” has not left me feeling rudderless or adrift. Rather, I feel empowered and almost a bit reckless (but in a good way). The state of answering only to yourself for your actions (and your spouse, of course!) is actually a very liberating one. I like it. I miss Grammy and Pop-pop terribly but the freedom they have given me is a great, great gift.

So all in all, 2014? Maybe NOT so bad so far… Sure, heck – I hope 2015 will be even better but we still DO have almost a month of 2014 left. Who knows? It may still turn out to be the best year ever…

It’s funny. I was looking for a profound, “deep” quote about being thankful and ran across this sage advice from Oprah Winfrey herself. Who’da ever thought I’d be sharing inspiring Oprah quotes on my blog? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Oprah

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Monday Memes 7

Today’s collection of memes is about challenges and obstacles, how we can meet them head on and move beyond them. I found all three of these messages and images very inspiring; I hope you do, too. Enjoy!

never be defeated

I like the “chin-up, things-are-gonna’-get-better” spirit of the meme above. It encourages us to push through setbacks and always keep moving forward. The meme below has a similar message…

making mistakes

I think it is always important to remind ourselves that we are imperfect beings, (hopefully) constantly working to improve ourselves and others. There is no failure in failing – true failure lies in not even trying. Finally, this last meme really speaks to me on a personal level…

love (1)This final image goes out to all my binational, same-sex couple friends, many who endured months and years of trials before finally being able to be together – and for the many still apart. Always remember the journey is worth the effort… Happy Monday, Everyone!

Going for Green Card Gold

I have never been any sort of athlete, let alone a competitive swimmer or diver, but today? I feel like an Olympian standing at the edge of the board/platform – concentrating, waiting, centering and praying.

Dive 1Today my beloved husband and I went for the “mock interviews” with our attorney, in preparation for our REAL USCIS interviews on 27 January as (hopefully) the final step in our L-O-N-G journey to secure a spousal-based green card for him. After struggling for over five years to find a way to be together, despite sometimes daunting circumstances, the final goal/prize is in sight…

Dive 3We never struggled emotionally to be together – our love has always been strong. We have, however, at times struggled to physically be together (in the same country) and were fortunate to be able to make that happen these past few years. We have been far luckier than other couples in our situation, and for that, I thank The Universe every day.

We have made many, many wonderful and life-long friends along the way, friends that have helped us through emotional times, friends that have given us wise and prudent advice (both personal and legal) and friends that totally understand the challenges – and rewards – of being in a binational, same-sex couple. Hopefully all will go well. One journey will end; a new, more hopeful, exciting journey will begin.

It feels like a L-O-N-G time till 27 January but I have never been a patient guy. Till then, we are grateful every day for the time we have had, and are looking forward to what we both hope will be the unlimited time we will have ahead. No matter what happens, I know I am with my forever guy, and that makes the waiting tolerable. Almost…

I cannot wait to feel like this…

dive 2

Ready? Set? GO!!!

Today, my Beloved and I started the process of applying for his green card, with the ultimate goal of him becoming a United States citizen at some point in the future. Our more immediate goal is that we can be together here in The States as a couple free from the tremendous emotional and financial worry that comes from being part of a male, bi-national couple. We took the first step about six weeks ago –

wedding bandsWe got married. Today, we signed on with a law firm that specializes in immigration law and will petition the US government on my behalf to issue my husband a marriage-based green card. We had our initial intake interview today –

ChecklistAnd we still have (I fear) a LOT of paperwork and filing to do in our future. I suspect at some point the computer room in our apartment may look like this –

paperworkand that everything we submit will be reviewed and scrutinized with a keen eye –

detectiveFinally, at some point my Angel and I will be questioned by uniformed government officers as they review all the materials we have submitted, vetting our relationship and documenting that it is “legit.” According to our legal team, and based on anecdotal information I have received from other couples going through the same process in different cities/states, this can be an intimidating part of the process – but I am not worried…

interrogationSee, I am reminded of two pieces of wisdom, shared with me by two people I loved and admired. One of my old bosses, Mr. Pearl, always said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you lied about.” And my Mom always said, “You never have to be afraid when you are honest and tell the truth because the truth is always the right thing to say.”

Here’s the truth –

After five years together, weathering challenges no regular couple – straight or gay – should ever have to weather, I love my SBF, I mean my HUSBAND, more than ever… 

We are ready to “get the party started.” I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks for coming on this journey with us…

 

 

 

beLIEf

Lately I have become a little disenchanted with Washington, politicians and the “democratic process” in general, especially as those three things intersect with the proposed immigration reform bill being considered on the hill. Recently, amendments that would have FINALLY created an avenue for America’s gay and lesbian citizens in binational relationships to sponsor their foreign partners for immigration were withdrawn in the eleventh hour. Binational same-sex couples were thrown under the bus AGAIN, for the umpteenth time now. It was, to borrow the wording of a very large, national immigration reform organization, “dispiriting” to say the least…

The thing is, the groups protesting/squawking the loudest, demanding that these amendments be removed were the Catholic, Baptist and Evangelical coalitions – you know, the “Christian faiths” with all their alleged piety and respect for all of mankind. That makes me puke. This action – denying two people that love one another the very basic and fundamental right to just be together, physically –  is reprehensible and, in my opinion, morally-corrupt. I myself was raised in the Catholic faith and many of the things that are “good” about me are a result of that upbringing. I no longer observe the faith, more out of respect for it than animosity towards it – but that might be changing. I mean, I don’t know that I was ever the best, most devout Catholic but I do know this – the God I served, and the God you all profess to honor and worship, is ashamed at how you are behaving now.

So anyway, I know I have shared with you all before that I will sometimes scan BING images, looking for inspiration for my blog posts. And today, in an effort to come out of my funk, I typed in “believe” and hit search. This image appeared:

Belief (Lie) I must confess, I took its appearance as an actual moment of Divine intervention. In one, graphic moment, it succinctly expresses the conflict I am feeling inside about so many things – an all-loving, all-embracing God, served on earth by the largest group of haters ever; the pack of two-faced politicians I helped elect to office – the ones that lie right to your face to make you a believer/get your vote then kick your ass to the curb the minute they feel a little heat from the “Christians;” the hollow hope that within my lifetime America will FINALLY live up to the ideals and tenets it professes but falls so miserably short of attaining. These are three of the battles raging in my heart/soul at the moment, and this image pretty much sums up where I am at presently in resolving those conflicts…

I hate liars. I hate people that promise one thing and do the other. Maybe someone should invent a machine with the display above that floats over the head of every clergyman and every politician in America, so that whenever they speak, we can immediately see if they are speaking the truth from their heart (belief) or lying (LIE) to our face. THAT is an invention whose time has definitely come…

Honoring the True Meaning of Memorial Day

I guess I have never considered myself to be super patriotic and, if you have been reading my posts lately, I am currently pretty disillusioned with the whole United States political system in general. That said, days like today give me a chance to pause, reflect and re-engage.

America is still regarded as the greatest country on the planet, with the best overall standard of living, the best educational system, the best/most stable economy – the best place to “simply be.” America is the country where “Dreams come true.” Our country was founded on the notion that all men – and women – are created equal. We profess to have the greatest civil liberties of any country on earth yet America’s gays and lesbians are, by and large, still treated like second class citizens. Oh sure, we endure “polite” elevator speeches about gay and lesbian rights and equality but the fact is you can still be fired from your job just for being gay or lesbian in many states, less than 20% of the states offer some form of marriage “equality” for us homos and we STILL cannot sponsor our foreign partners for immigration. Those are just three of the hundreds of rights currently denied gay and lesbian American citizens.

Memorial Day. A day of remembrance, honoring those men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. Sounds noble and pretty, right? Here is a photographic reminder of what Memorial Day’s “ultimate sacrifice” really represents:

Draped CoffinsAccording to web resources, Memorial Day is a national holiday to honor those brave men and women who have died in the service of our country, protecting all that makes America great. I definitely cannot speak for any of those soldiers, nor do I want to put words in their mouths but I imagine quite a few of them would be disappointed with the America we have today – which, in my opinion, is NOT the idealized America they died defending and protecting.

I was fortunate to be spared military service but feel I have contributed much towards making America a great country. I do all the things every American should do – obey the laws, pay taxes, rah-rah on patriotic holidays. But I also believe in the American ideal enough to have opened a small business, to have invested in the local and national economy and to be the best “ambassador” I can be for my city, state and country to the world at large. I am politically-involved and work very hard to make sure that eventually ALL Americans, regardless of age, race, ability, gender or sexuality, are treated fairly and equally. I feel we as a country are doing these fallen soldiers a great disservice by STILL quibbling over gay and lesbian equality/rights. These men and women died so ALL Americans could enjoy the same rights, treatment and privileges under the law, including gays and lesbians.

Today has re-energized my spirit to pursue that same goal, albeit in a non-combat setting. Or maybe not – I sense a huge battle coming in America. Maybe I have been a soldier all along, training and waiting for the big battle yet to come…

 

 

“But We Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere…”

Given recent events in DC, on a variety of topics (but mostly with regards to immigration reform – I refuse to call it comprehensive since it leaves out provisions for gay and lesbian citizens in binational relationships), I find this song particularly appealing. I had never heard of the artist before today and, to be honest, a friend of mine on Facebook actually posted this and I watched it (thanks, Kev!). Now I hope you will please watch:

ALL the lyrics are awesome but these passages – “You can pass a law if you need to…” and the chorus “But we ain’t going nowhere, we ain’t going nowhere” really resonate with me. I hope it will empower gays and lesbians everywhere – and especially those in binational relationships – to take action and DEMAND equality.

Thanks, too, to Ben Ivory for recording such a powerful, moving song. Please share on Facebook, “tweet” – whatever. Let’s get this song, and its message, out there. Thanks!