Monday, April 25, 2011

Our First Family Vacation...

We had another family first.  We went on our first "destination" family vacation together.  In other words, we went somewhere we wanted to go, without obligating ourselves to travel to visit family.  And we survived. 

We went to San Antonio and it was beautiful.  We visited during Fiesta, in which the whole city shuts down and celebrates its' history and culture together with parades, parties and tons of fun.  All of us partied our little fiesta behinds off, and I don't think I've ever seen Big C and J smile so much.

We paraded, we danced, we ate, we drank (well, some of us drank) and we enjoyed each other.  We took Big C and J to the Alamo (History lessons, yo) and we took them to a saloon, where we allowed them to sit at the bar and flirt with the bartender.  We toured the Riverwalk, we took a taxi ride into a historical district of San Antonio which was hosting a neighborhood fair, we threw confetti, and we saw Miss Texas.

We saw a group of PeeWee Herman impersonators, J screamed when he saw the Texas Longhorn Band, and we saw a gorgeous man in a pretty, blue dress.

Here's what I learned from my first family vacation:

1.  I enjoy my family more than I knew I could.  The four of us are not only family, we're friends.  We laugh and we truly enjoy each other's company.

2.  Not only have I found a soul mate in UncleR, but J and Big C have found a comfort zone in their relationship with each other.  It's not a normal uncle/nephew type relationship in regards to their positions in our family.  It's a friendship and camaraderie which is deeper and more loving than I knew it could be.  They have their own language, humor, and rules in their relationship.  UncleR and I are not privy to every layer of their relationship, nor do we want to be.  It's a joy to watch them grow to love each other as family as we are learning to all navigate this next portion of our journey.

3.  UncleR is my best friend.

4.  One hotel room is too small to share for three nights with 4 people.  In this family, we need a suite.  The symphony of sleepy sounds emanating from some of my family members was more than enough to drown out the mariachi bands playing outside of our hotel balcony, but they were not conducive to allowing this light sleeper to actually catch some zzzzzzz's.

5.  Heat can make people cranky.

6.  Prickley pear margaritas are pretty, but they do not taste that good.

7.  Always pay more for the expensive, reserved parade seating.  The cushy seats rock.

8.  It's okay to take an extra bagel from the buffet home with you in your backpack.

9.  Mariachi bands are cooler when traveling on a boat.

10.  It's always good to come home.  You never quite appreciate what you have until you get back from where you've been.

So, we survived.  We even had a bit of fun.  I'm ready to do it year (maybe).  I really am one lucky broad. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Facts About America's Gays...

I came across an article yesterday entitled, "10 Facts About America's Gays".  It was so good, I thought I'd blog about it.

Fact 1:  9 million LGBT people live in the U.S., 3.8 % of the adult population.

There's probably more of us.  In fact, I'd say it's a certainty.  But, due to the bigotry and homophobia that still monopolizes a large subset of our population, some of us aren't able to declare ourselves.  Sad.

Fact 2:  LGBT people are racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse: 1 in 4 are people of color and same-sex couples have identified themselves on the Census in 99% of U.S. counties.

We're rainbow colored.

Fact 3:  A substantial percentage of LGBT people are raising children: 1 in 5 same sex couples have children and 6% of children in foster care are being raised by LGB people.

6 states expressly forbid gays to adopt.  In the other 44 states, while most allow adoption by a single, gay person, there are often restrictions which do not permit same sex couples from adopting together.  I wonder why?  Maybe children of gay parents only deserve one parent?

Fact 4:   LGB people are serving in the Armed Forces: 71,000 are currently serving, and there are over 1 million LGB veterans in the U.S.

Over 12,000 (willing to serve) soldiers have been discharged since the inception of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the 1990's.  UncleR is a veteran.  When she enlisted in the US Army, in order to serve, she was required to lie on her armed service application by saying that she was not homosexual.  Had she not hidden the truth, she would not have been permitted to enlist.

Fact 5:  70,000 same-sex couples have gotten married in the U.S.;  another 90,000 have entered into civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Make that 70,001, as of this June.

Fact 6:  The annual divorce rate for same-sex couples and different-sex married couples is similar — about 2%.

See, the gays really are just like the straights.

Fact 7:  LGBT people are not more affluent. Gay men earn 10% to 23% less, on average, than heterosexual men. Children of same-sex couples are twice as likely to live in poverty.

The fact that our federal government does not recognize same sex marriages prevents same sex couples from accessing the many financial benefits that accompany legal marriage in this country, including:  eligibility for certain public programs, access to health benefits provided by a spouse's employer, access to life insurance benefits, Social Security benefits, etc. 

Fact 8:  Rates of hate crimes and employment discrimination against LGBT people are similar to or higher than for other protected groups.

Here in Texas, I can be fired (legally) for being a lesbian.  I'll leave it there.

Fact 9:  "Don't ask, don't tell" has cost taxpayers over $500 million since it started being enforced in 1994.

Willing. Soldiers.

Fact 10:  If all 50 states and the federal government recognized marriage for same-sex couples, the federal budget would benefit by over $1 billion each year.

Maybe we can sell same-sex marriage to the fiscally-conservative Republicans by explaining the benefits to our economy.  It could work.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Haven't Felt Like Blogging.

Life is...well, interesting.

I haven't felt like blogging.  Shame, cause I started off so well, ensuring that I dedicated myself here a few times a week.  But, the last few weeks have been spent dealing with the real world.

I got fired from my job.  Okay, not really.  But, sort of.  The school district where I work is being forced to make 175 job cuts in order to shave dollars off of their budget for next school year.  All new employees hired within the last year or so were let go.  We had a choice to either let them terminate us for budgetary reasons or to voluntarily resign so that we wouldn't have a "termination" on our records.  I chose the latter.

The strange thing is, I may be back there next year.  My position as a Speech Pathologist is a necessary one, because kids must, by law, receive speech services.  If they fire me, they won't have anyone to provide those services.  But, due to a long list of legal reasons (that are too convoluted to list here), the district had to fire me only to probably rehire me.  Gah.  Of course, in the meantime, I'm out of a job and have to decide whether to wait on being rehired or to seek alternative employment opportunities in the off chance that I cannot return to my job.  It's a fucked-up situation that has caused great amounts of stress and grief in our family during what is supposed to be a very exciting time.

I really should say, I think everything will work out.  We'll be fine.  And I'm really not too worried about next year because being an SLP affords me many work opportunities, I'm nothing if not determined, and I'll find something else if things don't work exactly the way I hope with my current school district. 

With all that I've said above, I'll state that something incredibly positive has come out of the past few weeks.

I have developed an extreme sense of comfort and trust in my relationship with UncleR.  I don't mean that in the way most people may imagine I mean it when I use the words "comfort and trust".  Instead, I mean that after choosing to live a single life for a very long time, it has been an eye opening experience to have someone in your life who supports you through and walks with you during difficult times in your journey.  I have always relied on myself (and of course, continue to do so) in difficult situations, but having a partner in life, who is there when I have come home in a bad mood, or who is there when I needed to vent, or who agreed with me heartily when I called an overindulgent co-worker a's sort of...nice. 

Who knew???

So, anyway, I haven't felt like blogging.  And I didn't feel I could return here after a few weeks off without discussing what's been keeping me away.

But, many exciting things are happening in the very near future.  First, next week, all 4 of us (me, UncleR, J and Big C) are traveling to San Antonio for Fiesta on the Riverwalk.  I predict lots of music, good times and margaritas. 

And then, 2 months from today, I marry my very best friend.  So, while life has thrown us some curveballs, it's still pretty fuckin' awesome. 

I promise next blog I'll be back to ranting on things that matter to more people than just me.  Consider yourself warned.  ;)