Living in Technicolor

Someone asked me today how it felt – no, actually she asked me what it felt like – now that my beloved husband Martin has been granted a green card. I told her that in many ways, it felt just the same, but in one BIG way, it felt much different.

She pressed on, asking me for more details. I asked if she remembered the scene from The Wizard of Oz, right after Dorothy lands in Munchkinland. Prior to the moment she opens the front door, the movie is in black and white (more of a sepia, actually). Once the door opens, before her is Oz in all its Technicolor glory – bright, beautiful and full of wonder. Her whole world changed, and the way she saw the world changed as well…

That’s how it felt for me today – the world was now bright, beautiful and amazing, full of boundless opportunities and endless joy. In an even more graphic (and definitely “less gay” way), our world went from this yesterday morning –

Sepia tree

… to something a LOT more like this in the early afternoon –

Green treeIt is a new and different feeling, being able to “see” all the colors and possibilities in our future now, Martin and me. It is amazing how one tiny document can change your life in ways hard to even imagine. We can travel. We can work/live wherever we want. We don’t have to worry about being separated. We can BREATHE. And it is a pretty kick-ass feeling for sure.

We are ready – ready to leave the sepia behind and start living in bold Technicolor! Hooray!

Green Card Success!

Today, after five years and five months of praying, hoping, dreaming, wishing and planning, my Beloved was approved for his spousal-based green card. And while I will still be a little anxious until it physically arrives here in the mail (7-10 business days), I finally feel relieved – and renewed. We are, as couples in our situation sometime joke, no longer “waiting to exhale.” The last obstacle in our path to a long, bright, joyful future has FINALLY been removed. We have a destination ahead…

happyAs the final “test” in our journey, our personal interview was scheduled today for 12:45PM; less than one hour later, we were sitting in the car, Martin smiling from ear to ear and me sort of numb with happiness.

I had gone into the appointment “locked and loaded,” ready for anything. We had in tow our AWESOME attorney, Stacy Cozart of the Cleveland firm Sharon & Kalnoki; Martin and I were in our best business casual attire and I was carrying not one but TWO accordion files full of documentation, photos and other forms, paperwork and receipts. If I am being honest, I also walked in today with 5+ years of pent-up frustration and anger at our ridiculous immigration laws, the emotional baggage of nights/weeks/months spent crying missing Martin while we were apart, a logjam of emotions about the injustice of our situation and – no offense to Catholicism – pretty much an “expect-the-worse-but-hope-for-the-best” frame of mind and attitude.

stacks of papersAs it turns out, I didn’t need most of what I had brought – especially the attitude…

Our interviewer was gracious and respectful. He seemed unfazed by the whole same-sex couple thing and was very professional. He asked the pertinent questions, shared a few stories and asked us for some and, the whole time, seemed genuinely interested in us “succeeding” in our application. Stacy was definitely a comforting presence, and I won’t lie – Martin and I are a pretty squeaky-clean couple, so we weren’t too worried about our application. At least Stacy and Martin weren’t too worried. Me? It’s my JOB to worry.

I was worried that we might not find out the decision in our case till a day or so from today but when I saw the examiner whip out that big old APPROVED stamp, I could not have been happier. He stamped a LOT of pages, congratulated and welcomed Martin, told him to expect his green card in 7-10 business days, shook our hands and wished us well. I did my best not to cry in his office – I made it to the outer hall before five+ years of pent-up emotions all just sort of rushed out. Martin squeezed my hand; Stacy told me not to cry but to celebrate and go have a drink for her (she had to get back to the office to go to a funeral).

Men Shaking HandsAnd so there we were, my beloved Martin and I, sitting in the car. It was over. It was an odd moment for me – I was happy beyond measure but, I guess, at the same time, I never expected it would happen so softly and quietly. I suppose I was waiting for glitter cannons and a ticker tape parade but, at the end, it was just the man I loved and me, as it often has been and always will be.

Don’t get me wrong – we could have NEVER gotten here without the love and support of our friends. I would like to mention everyone by name, but you know who you are. Martin and I have so many friends and supporters locally, as well as online friends we have never even met. We have made so many amazing friends, some of whom are still apart, some of whom are “in process” and some of whom are still waiting to exhale. I am personally committed to remain involved with LGBT immigration reform till ALL our friends are where they want to be…

I also want to mention a few great organizations that helped us. I would like to begin with Out4Immigration, an all-volunteer organization with whom I volunteered for a number of years. Martin and I have made a LOT of great friends thru that group, and Out4Immigration provided invaluable assistance and guidance along every step of our journey. I would also like to thank Lavi Soloway, partner in Masliah & Soloway, the founders of The DOMA Project. His/their groundbreaking work not only inspired us in our own journey but continues to help binational same-sex couples like us come together. And finally, mad love and respect to our own hometown law firm of Sharon & Kalnoki. The amazing Stacy Cozart, in partnership with her uber-assistant Magda Vlcek, brought us home safely and “sealed the deal” (and held MY hand thru the whole process – those ladies are incredible!)

trophies

And so, now a new chapter begins for Martin and me. If our lives are like a novel, we have committed several chapters to “setting it all up” – now we are ready for the story to get good and we are definitely ready for the “happily ever after” part to begin. We are well on our way…

I want/don’t want this day to end…

Today is turning out to be one of those 27 hour days I always wish for – and while it has been very productive, it’s not as much fun as I thought it would be – I am exhausted and beat… That said,

Good news? As I shared earlier this week, my business just received a retainer from a client for a fabulous design project that, I suspect, will take 6-8 months. Hooray!

stacks of cash

Even better news? At the risk of jinxing it, I think we are also close to signing ANOTHER deal – this one an opportunity to create a model that would be used to attract tenants for a new adaptive reuse project – it’s a cool building in a cool location. We won’t get rich but we will definitely have fun and get to be really creative.

coinsSo, I hate to appear cocky or over confident; in fact, I am just the opposite. I am thankful for these two opportunities and thank The Universe for finally seeing its way clear to send them our way. We won’t disappoint you, promise…

pinky swearSo yeah – work is going kinda’ fantastic. Finally. And again? Thank you, Universe!

On the personal side, my Beloved and I have started the journey to ensure that we will be together, forever. And no, I am not talking about some weird, ritual thingie –

two mummiesRather, we have started the legal proceedings that will allow my husband to remain with me here in America, always. So far, a lot of paperwork to fill out and a lot of “research and gathering” but, in the end, it will all be MORE than worth it…

flag and a rainbowSo, in conclusion, I guess I just wanted to thank The Universe for “turning it around” for me recently. I know I have been a bit hard on you lately – like you haven’t been MORE than a bit hard on me! – but like the hokey old saying says (and Kelly Clarkson sings), “What doesn’t kill ya’ makes you stronger.”

Thanks, Universe, for not killing me. I really, really appreciate it!

body outline

With Apologies In Advance to My Fair Lady…

On Thursday, 08 August 2013, at 1:30 PM, I will be marrying the man of my dreams in a small, private civil ceremony. It will be the happiest day of my life – pics and stories to follow.

In the meantime, with all due respect to gay men and musical lovers everywhere, please enjoy this slightly (I hope!) humorous pictorial treatment of one of the greatest songs from the timeless musical, “My Fair Lady.” Enjoy!

I’m getting married in the morning!

morning

Ding dong! The bells are gonna chime.

Chiming bells

Pull out the stopper! 

Stopper

Let’s have a whopper!

Whopper

But get me to the church on time!

In time

I gotta be there in the mornin’ 

Rooster

Spruced up and lookin’ in me prime. 

????????????

Girls, come and kiss me; 

Kissing Booth

Show how you’ll miss me. 

Crying eyes

But get me to the church on time! 

final carriageAgain, I apologize to every musical lover out there, but I couldn’t resist!

In less than twenty-four hours, I will be legally married to the man I want to share my forever with; at times, I thought I would never see this day. Now that it is here, I can hardly believe it. Thanks in advance to all our loving friends and family – my Sweetie and I could have NEVER made it this far without your constant love, caring and support. We appreciate it! Now, time to get some beauty sleep!

Martin? I love you with all my heart. Details to follow. Wish us luck…  😀

Joy Fall-Out

I like to think I have a pretty awesome circle of friends – they support me and my beloved, they endure my craziness, they are (for the most part) socially conscious and engaged and they, by and large, make the world a better place simply by being themselves. I am pretty blessed. I seem to gravitate to “art-sy” types, maybe because I work in the design field, maybe because I am gay, who knows? My friends all seem to be somehow gifted in the arts department – writers, artists, designers and the like.

One of my dearest friends, Chris, would probably deny that he even is an artist, although he owns and manages an amazing and highly successful fine arts framing company in San Francisco. I have known Chris and his partner for just about five years but have gotten very close to them in the past couple of years. They are two very special people, in all the BEST definitions of the word. Kind. Loving. Generous. Giving. Selfless. Worldly. Responsible.

Anyhow, like most of my friends, Chris is a part of my online “social network” and while he is not a mad-poster like other friends, he does pop-up in my feed with reasonable frequency. Chris is one of my most political friends so typically his posts reflect current events or ways to better the world. They always make me smile but recently he posted this image, which made me stop and grin from ear to ear:

ImagePhoto courtesy of CB Fine Art Photography. Used with permission; all rights reserved.

The caption attached to the pic was simply this: “Growing shade outside of Rainbow Grocery, San Francisco.” I am guessing it was an image captured by my friend with his iPhone as he was walking outside the market. Speaking from a scholarly place, the composition is visually interesting, the balance and juxtaposition of colors is engaging. The artist plays with shadows of leaves contrasted against reflections of leaves in the glass. It clearly displays the sometimes hard to grasp concept of the “quality of light.”

In a nutshell, it is simply a kick ass photo.

But it was more than a simple pic/post for me. For one thing, I kinda’ joke with my friends about being affected with mild S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder – Google it) and this image, bright and saturated with sunlight, made me forget all the gray nothingness that is Ohio at the moment. I smiled, too, as I remembered being at Rainbow Grocery with my beloved Martin and Chris and his beloved guy during our trip to San Francisco last year. The visit to Rainbow Grocery was a big deal/no big deal, you know? Just four friends, having fun doing nothing, laughing and talking as we walked aisles of soy, bamboo and “free-range” products. The memory of that happy time made me smile.

In an effortless moment, simply by innocently posting a photograph, my friend lifted my spirits and reminded me of some awesome memories. I am sure it was not his original intention but he really made my day great by sharing that picture. It is moments like this, moments that I like to call “collateral joy happenings” that I wish would happen more often, not only for me but for everyone.

I’d like to publicly thank all my friends for being in my life. As I said, I am blessed with many great friends – I look forward to making many more memories/having many more adventures with all of you. As each new event and chapter in my life unfolds, I promise to savor every moment and open myself up to joy. And I promise to do my best to share that joy with you.