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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Happy BD To Me, 2014 Edition

Today is my birthday. I am 56 year’s old today. Five-Six. Wow… That seems like the half-life of carbon or something, LOL! As I reflect over the past 365, a lot has happened, mostly good, some OK and some, frankly, a little challenging…

cupcake

Last June, about two weeks after my birthday, Section 3 of DOMA was repealed. As a result, I was able to marry the man of my dreams in August 2013. Like that event wasn’t great enough in and of itself, that marriage license allowed me to sponsor my spouse for permanent, lawful immigration to America. In January of 2014, MSW received his green card. And in a little over two weeks, he will be traveling back to Europe for the first time in over three years to see his family – and I will, for the first time ever will be sending him off on a plane and not worrying if he will be able to get back in the country. For that I am forever thankful.

plane-at-night

I woke up beside that guy today – and for that love and caring, devotion and commitment, I will also be forever grateful. Plus, he made me a kick-ass birthday cake. He is so good to me.

My family has been OK over the past year. My Dad has been having an ongoing health issue but he is battling like a trooper and I think he is finally on the right treatment path. I love that old curmudgeon and know he will be fine. All my siblings and nieces and nephews are well, although my niece Erin FASTB (First and Still the Best!) has her OWN child now, my great nephew Emmitt, and there is nothing like watching someone you held as a baby hand you THEIR baby to remind you that time does indeed march on. I am blessed with many children in my life – nine nieces, nephews and a great nephew, from 30 years old to 14 months, and I love them all.

HAPPY-CHILDREN

Work? Now that is a mixed bag for sure. While the interior design component of our business continues to grow, our retail “division” might as well be closed. It is hard for independent retailers in the present economy, to be sure. My business partner and I are examining who we are today compared to who we were almost seven years ago, when we started. I can foresee some future changes/re-shaping coming – not necessarily bad, but you know me: change is never easy.

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My personal health? Well, my Beloved has me eating better and healthier than ever before (I told you – he is so good for me). I am now two+ year’s out of treatment for prostate cancer and, so far, so good. I have to share that I am slightly embarrassed; when I started this blog in January of 2013, one of my goals was to lose 55 pounds (check out my original post and that will make more sense). The embarrassing part? Since that post I think I MAY have lost about 10 pounds, totes, but as long as I am going DOWN I guess I need to stay the course.

spuds

My Angel is almost done with school, and I am thinking about going back to finally finish my degree/s. Or maybe I will just take a foreign language – perhaps German, and get in touch with my “roots?” Who knows?

German Flag

Our local friend circle is great, and we also have a national network of friends from east to west. I am blessed with much love and support in this area – in fact, not to boast, but when I last checked, I had over 225 “Birthday Wishes” on Facebook (I may not get to personally respond to all of you, so know that your thoughts and wishes are really appreciated!)

coast to coast

Ridiculous thing that just happened? I got a free lunch for my birthday from our local Jimmie John’s. Sandwich, Thinny Chips AND a large drink. Matt and his crew are fantastic!

jimmyjohns-logo

In the challenging category is the fact that – much as I resist (resent?) it – I am in my “Second Fifty.” I think I need glasses, readers at least. My Sweetie – and a few others – have commented recently that I am talking louder and louder. My God, am I losing my hearing? And as a “youthful-minded” fifties-ish person, I am challenged by fashion. I am not ready for Ban-Lon “slacks” with non-roll, elastic waistbands yet, but me and Banana Republic are not friends, either. And I think people over fifty should never wear “graphic tees.” Sigh…

glasses_628

All in all, however, my life is pretty sweet. I am blessed. So, “Welcome, 56!” I am looking forward to 57…

Happy-Birthday

änˈwē

For the past few days I have been sharing – probably more like over-sharing – details of my current mental state, a troubling mash-up of mild anxiety, general uneasiness, a lack of focus and mild sadness. I have tried to address this situation on my own, without really understanding “it,” or why I am in “it.”

Sad box manLo and behold, after reading my post from yesterday, my friend Carrie put a name to what I have been feeling: ennui.

ennui (änˈwē): a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement; a lack of spirit, enthusiasm, or interest. “He suffered from a general sense of ennui.”

As I have examined this concept – with some input from the oh-so-perceptive-and-similarly-situated Carrie – I have come to understand that, yes, I am experiencing “a general sense of ennui.” (and what an S.A.T. word ennui is, right?)

The thing is, for going on five years, my beloved partner M and I have struggled almost daily, trying to figure out a way, a pathway, for us to remain together forever. Almost daily, I faxed and called and emailed elected officials, I called on Senators and City Councils, I wrote to a Cardinal (holy man, not bird) and to the editor, all trying to convince the world that my “gay” relationship with M was real and genuine, solid and sacred, and deserving and worthy of all the rights and privileges afforded any heterosexual relationship.

Then, in late June, the almost unimaginable happened and Section 3 of DOMA was repealed. Suddenly the path was clear – there WAS a way for my Beloved and I to be together, forever. And we were ecstatic.

We got married – HOORAY. We engaged a law firm to represent us and our case to the USCIS. We are currently in the middle of gathering info, filling out and filing forms and then the waiting begins. Just waiting. And I think that is why/when the “ennui tsunami” hit me.

calm seaI know this is gonna’ sound kinda’ ridiculous but, after all that fighting and determination, all that struggle and resolve – and all-too-often disappointment – now, to be on the brink of everything being awesome, well, weird as it sounds, there is a hole in my life. Ennui. And it seems odd to me that I should even feel this way, but I do…

I am sure the ennui will pass and I thank Carrie for helping me identify it. I am also visiting my therapist in an effort to wrestle this demon out of my head. It is no small comfort to have arrived at this place and I thank my Beloved M, all my friends and all you all reading this for riding this out with me. Whew. I have learned through countless hours of therapy, dozens of self-help books and a lifetime of personal work that monsters are more easily banished once they have a name. I became familiar with a new word and concept: ennui. And I am happy to say that I will NOT be becoming familiar with these three words: Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac.

prozac

 

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…

 

 

 

And So It Begins…

For people that follow this blog, and friends that are close to my partner and me, I am sure you know that the recent SCOTUS DOMA decision reshaped our future in a very significant way. Now, finally, my beloved SBF (Sweet Boyfriend) and I have a clear path ahead, one that does NOT include us moving to a foreign country where I would be teaching conversational English. And – as romantic as a mid-life move to Portugal sounds – I am SO glad things have worked out they way they have…

Today our journey began in earnest – we submitted our background profiles to the prominent and well-established immigration-focused law firm, Masliah & Soloway, founders of Stop the Deportations: The DOMA Project. My beloved and I had our initial meeting with one of the firm’s principals, Lavi Soloway, today via Skype. Yes, THAT Lavi Soloway.

On a Sunday afternoon. While he was on vacation. Pretty amazing, right? I am still blown away by it all…

Light at the endFor a long, l-o-n-g time, I wasn’t totally sure how the future would look for my beloved and me. I mean, I always knew we would be together, I just wasn’t sure where. Or if we would ever be able to “…buy a house and settle down.” And get a dog/have a real yard. And just feel safe being at home – you know, all the things most people take for granted. Now it all seems possible…

I like the image above because it represents the start of our journey, One step at a time, moving along a straight, defined path and out into the light. As someone that has spent almost five years now cowering in the shadows, it sure does feel good to have “light on my face.” Thanks in advance to Lavi Soloway and his firm. Thanks to all our friends and family that have supported us and boosted our spirits when they were low, defeat after crushing defeat in the past. And most of all, thanks to my beloved partner for never, ever giving up on me/us, or on hope. He steadfastly refused to believe that anything but the best would happen for us. He always has been my rock and always will be.

I’ll be posting updates as we move along the path. Please, cross your fingers for us and hold good intentions for a quick, easy journey. I’m not a religious guy but hey, prayers never hurt, right? We’d appreciate it…

 

Sunday

SundayToday is the last day in what has been a very long, very happy week for me. And, as Sunday is traditionally a day of thanks, it seems like I have a few “Thank You’s” to deliver…

This past week, a hateful, hateful bit of legislation was overturned by SCOTUS (The Supreme Court of the United States). I know I have been hard on SCOTUS in the past but, as far as DOMA repeal goes, they got it right. THANKS!

To all the friends I (we) have made in the journey and struggle to get to this point, friends too numerous to individually name, please accept my (our) sincere thanks for your support, dedication and perseverance. I wasn’t totally sure if we would ever get here, so thanks for never letting my faith totally evaporate. THANKS!

To the people that will continue to help me (us) navigate all the work that still remains – learned attorneys and volunteers, old friends and friends we have yet to meet – I extend a huge THANKS in advance. THANKS!

And to my beloved partner M, the man that has always been the bright and shining reason for my fight, I say THANK YOU for always believing we c/would win this. You are amazing and I love you with all my heart…

Finally, to The Universe. I know I have joked in the past that my Mom always told me The Universe never gives us more than we can handle; many times I questioned that statement. But now I see that my Mom was correct. THANKS!

PS – Universe? Thanks for not making my Mom a liar…

 

Today? Tears of Joy!

I guess it’s no secret by now that somehow, some way, SCOTUS got it right today (well, five of them got it right). Regardless of the “‘final score,” America’s LGBT community scored a BIG gain today, especially in the marriage equality category…

I left for work today about 9:50 AM and by the time I arrived 12 minutes later, the world had changed. DOMA was “dead.” I spent the first 15 minutes at work just sobbing, tears of joy replacing many months – and years – of tears prompted by sadness, disillusionment and disappointment. America had finally gotten it right for once.

Joy

To borrow a status from one of my friends, I spent so much time on Facebook today just “LIKE-ing” and re-posting posts, well, I got a Charley Horse in my index finger, LOL!

I am confident that the coming days, weeks and months ahead will hold a few more side steps  – maybe even some small set-backs – but for the first time in a long, LO-N-G time, tonight I will fall asleep beside the man I love and not worry about how many more days, weeks, months or years we will be able to be wake up together.

The internet is abuzz with phrases like DOMA is DEAD! and MARRIAGE EQUALITY FOR EVERYONE! While these exclamations are not completely accurate, they are close enough for today.

Today we all deserve to celebrate and live in the moment. It’s time.

Tomorrow, we must return to our work and never, ever stop until full gay and lesbian equality is achieved in America.

One final note? Thank you, Universe, for answering my prayer from last night…