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Archive for April, 2013

Grudge:

Noun: A persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury

Verb: Be resentfully unwilling to give, grant, or allow (something).

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Why do we hold grudges?  Seriously, I’m asking why.

I come from the land of holding grudges – I think they put something in our town water supply when I was growing up and grudges just breed for generations and generations. You know what I’m talking about – Your Mother tells you not to talk to certain people – to not walk down a certain street – to not even think about dating the Catholic boy – to not ask why there are no people of color living inside the town limits – to not upset a certain Uncle – to just be quiet – to not ask questions – to just do as I’m told.

Is it easier to hold a grudge than to face the truth? Is it easier to just continue to blame than to look in a mirror and think maybe – just maybe – the person you see staring back at you might also be to blame?

I know people who are still upset and resentful about something that happened over 30 years ago – I can’t remember what I did an hour ago and yet these people cling to this grudge like it was the Holy Grail. This grudge defines them – it’s in their soul – it’s been a part of every decision they have made for over 30 years.  I find that amazing. They have wasted over 30 years being angry and hateful over a perceived snub or a word that was taken wrong or an alleged action.

I will admit I did what my mother told me to do because – well – that’s what one did in the 1950’s and 60’s. At least that’s what I did because I’ll be honest – I was just a little afraid of my mother, and I wanted her to be proud of me – so I did as I was told. To my credit – I did ask why – a lot.

Now that I’m 60 – I’ll admit that I do not understand the whole grudge thing. If there is someone you don’t want in your life because it’s not a healthy relationship – walk away. Don’t harbor any ill-will – just walk away and let it go. If you hold on to the feelings of anger and resentment – you’ve gained nothing by not having that person in your life. The point of not having that person in your life is to have your life more peaceful and fulfilling – you can’t have that if you get rid of the person but hold on to the feelings.  Let it go – let them go.

Life is hard enough as it is without the extra burden of remembering to keep a grudge alive. If you’re carrying a grudge, try to find a way to resolve it – for you. From experience – I can tell you that it’s wasted time and wasted emotions. I held a grudge against someone for almost 13 years, and I was the only one suffering. The other person simply went on with their life and didn’t waste a moment thinking about me. I, on the other hand, spent years being angry and playing the poor, poor pitiful me card. Was I hurt and betrayed? Yes, I most certainly was, however I should have simply spoke my peace and walked away. Instead, I spoke my peace and then spent 13 years being angry and trying to make her pay. Well, let me just say – you can’t make someone pay when they simply don’t care.

We all travel the same roads, but everyone’s journey is different. If you put two people on a bench to watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and then asked them what they just saw – you would most likely hear two entirely different accounts of the sunset they just watched. One might say – the sun went down over the ocean, and the other may say the sun looked like a big orange ball as it slowly disappeared over the contour of the earth. Same experience, two different levels of involvement.

As much as you can – try and be on good terms with everyone. Don’t carry around your families grudges for they don’t belong to you, they belong to those who have passed – let the grudge pass with them.  Mostly – be on good terms with who you are, with your journey, with your passion for what is right and just and decent and honorable. Walk away when you must and love with your whole heart when you can.

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When did we stop caring about one another? When did the welfare of others escape from our view of the world? And when did we become so mean?

I knew when I started writing columns for online newspapers that not everyone was going to agree with my point of view – and I’m certainly okay with that – in fact I sort of welcome the dialog.  I rather enjoy a civilized discussion of different points of view. The operative word there is “civilized.” However – when you attack me or bully me or simply tell me I’m an idiot with nothing but your anger to back up your words – well – I certainly won’t listen to anything you have to say.

I’m not just talking about my writing. I’ve noticed on some of the writing sites I write on, people who comment on articles for the simple reason of starting a fight or for the sole purpose of degrading the writer – what on earth does that prove? With the exception of proving that the person writing the comment is a mean-spirited moron – it proves nothing. The snarky comments draw other snarky comments and soon it’s just this disgusting, high-schoolish bunch of nonsense. I stop reading and writing and move on to other things. The writers who truly have something to say are lost in the shuffle of this childish behavior. It’s sad and ridiculous.

Because someone puts their feelings in writing and sends it out in the world – that doesn’t give you license to attack them or bully them simply because you believe they are wrong – who are you to believe you have the right answer? There are decent ways to talk to people, there are kind and respectful ways to critique, and there are non-combatant ways to discuss. If you can’t do any of those things – then just do nothing, just say nothing.

Why must people delight in trying to destroy another person’s sense of worth? And where does this sense of entitlement come from. This – You’re wrong and I’m right and how stupid can you be – attitude.

I’m not a fan of yelling – about anything.  It can be civil rights, gay rights, guns, abortion, education, healthcare, immigration, government, conservatives, liberals, drugs, booze, football, baseball – it can be whatever – If you yell – I will not listen to you.

Tell me you don’t agree with what I said – and tell me why in a tone that’s not condescending – and I’ll be more than happy to discuss with you what you believe. We can all learn from one another, but lately all I’ve been seeing are people just being mean – and this teaches all of us absolutely nothing – well – except to be mean.

Lighten up people. No one is perfect and no one has all the answers. Perhaps instead of yelling and writing scathing remarks – one could listen and learn. Maybe not – but you won’t know unless you shut your mouth – take your fingers off the keyboard – and open your mind. The world does not revolve around you, and you do not know everything.

Stop being so mean, and try a little tenderness. Wait – that sounds like a song… ♫

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According to the online Wikitionary: To come full circle means:  To complete a cycle of transition, returning to where one started after gaining experience or exploring other things.

This is what I did last weekend –  I came full circle in my life that started here in San Diego some 32 years ago.

I was 28 years old when I moved to San Diego. My husband was in US Navy and was about to start his career aboard his first ship. He was excited about his journey and boarded his ship for his first deployment about a month after we found our apartment. I could understand his excitement but things were different for me.

From a small town of 1000 people to a city of over a million people – physically – this is where I was. Emotionally – I’m not sure where I was. I was married – I was a closeted gay – I was – well – I was a mess.

I remember sitting alone on my couch on Thanksgiving Day eating a small chicken breast I had baked for myself watching the Detroit Lions play football. My family was all gathered around the table at my Aunts in Pennsylvania and – for the first time in my life – I was alone. I wondered how it was that I got here and what exactly is was I was supposed to be doing.

So, the next morning, I got myself a paper and I found myself a job at Naval Station San Diego working in the MWR (Morale – Welfare – Recreation) offices. Basically, we sold tickets to all the local attractions and tours and concert tickets. We were there to help military folks find their way around Southern California.

It was at this job at Building 71 – in the Theater Building on Pier 2 at Naval Base, San Diego, that my life changed – forever. For it was here I met Susan.

Susan was – and still is – the sweetest woman I had ever met in my life. She was married – had four children and was full of life with a laugh that just melted my heart.  I knew I was in trouble the moment I looked in her eyes. I knew in that instant that this was the person I was supposed to be with. I didn’t know how on earth this would ever be – I only knew in my heart that this was the woman who was going to save me from me.

It was also here that I met Mary Ann and the woman we would all come to call Betty Mom.

Betty Mom was a force to be reckoned with. She was a strong woman from Wisconsin who took no crap and told all of her “girls” that we could be whatever we wanted to be in life. She was like no one I had ever met in my life. She always had a cigarette in her hand – and one at the ready. She had long blonde hair that was always meticulously wound on her head, and she was always dressed to the nines right down to her jewelry.

I had never had anyone in my life tell me I could do anything I wanted to do – I could be anyone I wanted to be. On a camping trip we all took together to the beach – Betty Mom told us this long, rambling story that none of us can remember – but the ending was this: “You can do whatever you want – just be discreet.” This we all remember to this day.

Mary Ann was also like no one I had ever met in my life. When I was told to go and work with her – I remember that my hands started to sweat just a little.  She called people “sport” and “buckwheat.” She raised her voice and hung up on people. She yelled at small children that were messing with the brochures and then yelled at the parents who were not watching the small children who were messing with the brochures.

The first time I went to work with her I stepped behind her counter and she looked at me and in a rather stern voice said: “Who are you – and what are you doing here?”  I swallowed the fear that had formed in my throat, and in a weak, quiet small-town voice, told her I was here for her to train…  That’s when the wheels fell off the bus!

I can remember like it was yesterday Mary Ann picking up the phone that connected us with what I would soon know as home base – and she proceeded to let the boss and anyone else who could hear her know – she was in no mood to train anyone, and what were they thinking, and a myriad of other remarks. When it was all over – I was still there – and some 32 years later – we are still friends!

There are many stories I could write about the years Susan, Mary Ann, Betty Mom and I spent together in that little haven called Naval Station San Diego.  The bottom line is that we all made mistakes, we all strayed from the litter every once in a while, but we were always friends.

Betty Mom passed away some twelve years ago – I was living out-of-state and none of us got the chance to say goodbye. This past weekend Susan, Mary Ann and I attended a Memorial Service for Betty Mom’s husband Chuck – the man we all affectionately called – Pop.

After the service and time with Betty Mom and Pop’s children, we made the 10 minute drive to Naval Base, San Diego. We drove onto the base, turned right, and made our way to the Theater Building, Building 71, at Pier 2.  Time seemed to be standing still as we drove toward the building. Things looked different, and yet they were exactly the same.

There is no longer a ticket office inside the Theater Building, nor a tour department, but the doors to go in and out are the same, and the Theater is still in operation and the number on the edge of the building is still: 71.

We parked across from the Theater  right by the water, and took the flowers I’d picked earlier in the day to the edge of the Pier. And there we were, Susan, Mary Ann and I hand in hand – remembering…

Mary Ann said a few words, Susan said a few words, and I tried to say a few words but nothing except the words: “Thank You” would come out of my mouth. I was thinking; “I miss you, I love you, I wish you could see how I’ve grown and become that woman you told me I could be.”

We dropped our flowers into the water and just stood there – silent – each of us wrapped in our own thoughts.  There were more than flowers that went into the water on that day.  Regrets, unsaid words, words that were said in anger, people who have come in to and gone out of our lives – all were thrown over the edge of Pier 2 and washed away with the tide.

We left Pier 2 and drove to every other place the three of us shared in the time we spent there. The Bowling Alley, the Navy Exchange, the Fleet Exchange.  Nothing was the same – in the space where Mary Ann first asked me who I was; there is now a gorgeous Starbucks.  The Bowling Alley bar where we spent way too many hours is completely different, but… the memories were so real and so thick I felt like I needed to take my hand and brush them away from my face.  But, I didn’t brush them away – I let them wash over me and take me wherever it was I needed to go in that moment.

Full circle:  To complete a cycle of transition, returning to where one started after gaining experience or exploring other things.  Susan, Mary Ann, Barbie – it is as it should be.

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How morally correct is it to continually badger Democrats until they agree that marriage equality is the right thing?  Are we really changing hearts and minds or are they simply changing their opinion to get the press off of their backs?

For the past few days The Huffington Post has put the pictures of the Democratic Senators who oppose marriage equality on their front page.  I’m a lesbian – and I found this to be offensive. I don’t want someone to change their vote to get the press off of their back – I want them to change their vote because they believe it’s the right thing to do. I want them to vote for equality because they know in their hearts it’s what is right and just for every American.  I want them to vote their conscience – I want them to vote what they believe.  They should not be bullied into voting a certain way –

These Senators may have been bullied into their vote – but if they still look at gays and lesbians and think: Fags and Dykes – ick…  then you have accomplished nothing. If anything – they may be even more entrenched in their homophobia and in that – we haven’t gained any ground at all – we’ve actually lost ground.

Is it only about their vote – or is it about changing hearts and minds? I can guarantee you that to bully someone into doing what you want will not change their mind. We may get their vote, but they will never respect us or care about our well-being or think of us as anything but a bully.

Personally – I’d rather have their respect. If I have their respect – there is always a chance I can change their heart and their mind

I don’t want to have to bully my way into equality – I want equality because it’s the right and just thing for every American. To bully our way into anything makes us no better than – well – you know who you are…

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