Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A simple gift - Christmas for a non-custodial parent

In the last 9 years since losing custody of my youngest son, after transplanting myself and three older children to another state for employment opportunities, I have spent just one Christmas holiday with him. It was last year - not the best of scenarios - it was the blizzard of all blizzards - it took me three days to get from NYC to Chicago. I made the best of it, I am good at that - in spite of spending the time at the home of my former husband who has custody.

This week, I was excited as I made arrangements for a new mobile account - the bright blue phone was scheduled to arrive at his home on or before Christmas Eve. It was not to be - I found out, quite by accident, that my former husband had neglected to apprise me that he had chosen that exact same present.

I will be spending Christmas again alone - away from my children - that is not the issue - they are, after all grown, but the one who tugs at my heartstrings and brings many tears to my eyes is the youngest - he is a mere 12 years old - in need of a mother's love. Yes, I call and send packages and cards, notes etc, but since his father controls his comings and goings, I have not spoken with him since before Thanksgiving. I wanted him to have his own phone so that I can call him again regularly like I did in the days when they had a landline at their home - I would call in the mornings before school and after to see how his day went.

I don't know what sort of gift to get him at this late date, but I do know that the holidays bring a special set of challenges to single parents, particularly those who do not have custody.

I will make the best of if - as stated, I am good at doing same - I impore my readers who have these same challenges to please work with the non-custodial parent - there are reasons we are no longer together, but that should not mean that we ignore the tender needs of these precious children whom we have brought into this world. For 9 years, I have tried and tried to make things work without involving the courts, but that time has clearly come.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa to all the non-custodial parents out there in the world.

God's blessings.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Good hair

I am enjoying Thanksgiving and watching a movie with the aforementioned title.

I had a weave in my hair once - it cost me several hundred dollars. Granted, I was earning a decent wage at the time, but it was still an obscene amount to pay. I sat there for hours and hours, having my own hair braided tightly and I mean tightly into corn rows. I then proceeded to have tracks of hair sewn onto the braids. The end result was hair down past my shoulders which looked Oprah-esque. I was not thrilled. It was, after all, not the look I was going for. I wanted to go to work the next day and have people wonder what I had done, not be aghast that I had grown my hair overnight. I opted to have my hair shortened to a couple of inches longer than my own - all this for several hundreds of dollars. After a week of a serious headache, I went back to the store and had the extra hair removed - it was too much for me - the price of beauty was too high to pay and I opted out.

I was blessed to have a great hairstylist in Utah - Charlotte Johnson kept my hair looking beautiful for the 5+ years I spent under her care - the wives of the Utah Jazz basketball team went there to get their hair done - TLC Elegante was the name of the salon - I spent many happy and interesting hours there. I felt blessed to be able to afford getting my hair done at such an exclusive place, and looked beautiful.

When I came to New York, I was certain that I would find another Charlotte and a place - if not several - from which to choose to keep my hair looking "good". Without fail, when I asked the women with beautiful hair, they would confide in me that it was a weave, not their own hair.

I am watching this movie, and am frankly appalled with how much monies change hands to help black people look white and "pass" for beautiful or getting their hair to look "good". Why can't we be happy with what God has blessed us with?

My mum and I are seriously considering forgoing our straightened hair in favor of twists - wish us luck!

Bill Cosby redux

Bill Cosby has been known for years as the one to take on African Americans for their self-imposed ills. That would be the 50% who live in public housing and are unemployed/underemployed and living on various forms of public assistance.

He recently spoke at an event and wept tears and admonished parents to show up when the teacher calls from school - he told them to turn off the rap music, to teach men that women should be cherished, not raped or demeaned. Our young men should not be in prisons in inordinately high numbers.

I concur with all that has been said - Bill Cosby should not feel the need to apologize for being so outspoken - what he has to say needs to be said and should be repeated over and over until we get it as a race. The crowd of some 1,000 attendees gave him a standing rousing ovation and clearly agrees with him.

I have - will you?

President and Mrs. Obama's first state dinner

I am not generally in awe of such things, but this dinner honoring the Indian Prime Minister and his wife this week caused me to want to take time out to write about it. Complete with a huge tent, the Obama's managed to invite a large cross-section of the country - including Republican Bobby Jindal - Governor of Louisiana, Senator Dick Lugar, and Nancy Pelosi and her husband - Hillary Clinton sans husband and a slew of others, including producer Steven Spielberg.

Some of the food came from the White House organic garden. There was a choice of vegetarian food, lentils and salad, cheese and American wines to accompany all courses, according to CNN news.

The President is committed to forging a stronger relationship with one of the world's largest democracies - India - and this invitation to the State Dinner would be a strong indication of same.

The dresses and tuxedos were all beautiful and handsome - it was a night to be remembered by many for a long time to come.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Changes at Fort Hood

This is just the beginning. Our military personnel are suffering untold amount of stress with the multiple deployments they experience as a result of fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - it would appear that more troops (34,000 at first estimate) will be deployed to Afghanistan in coming months.

The massacre at Fort Hood is still on my mind. As one who suffers from PTSD from experiences witnessed and lived as a child, I know firsthand that this is something to be taken seriously. Many believe that PTSD is imagined and does not deserve treatment. Soldiers who suffer from mental health struggles are hesitant to be evaluated and treated for fear of being labeled incompetent and having their careers jeopardized.

This needs to end and soon - the Army is an amazing organization, providing stability and employment and protection to many - we as a public need to stand behind our troops and more importantly, we need to recognize the fragile mental state of returning troops from conflict zones.

Army bases in Europe are not open and bases in the US should not be either. In Europe, one has to show military ID to access the base as well as have an official logo on one's vehicle. Those were standard operating procedures years ago when I was an army wife - perhaps it is time to revisit them.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Education and prison reform

The two go hand in hand. One cannot have one without the other. Education - even if it is as minimal as a GED is key to preventing recidivism in prisoners returning to society.

I was encouraged to read a story regarding same in tonight's online NY Times. It would appear that the Wesleyan University in Connecticut has spent funds to bring an educational degree program to inmates at a correctional facility. Some of these inmates will be in prison for decades, others a few years - one even has a father who is a college admissions advisor. The students compete hard for a spot in this elite program.

President Obama has a full plate, but he has committed to doing something about prison reform - much-needed, ever since Bill Clinton took away Pell Grants from prisoners during his administration - these men and women do not need more recrimination and judgement, they need help to get back on track so that when they do return to society they have a chance at actually making it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Michigan Governor tells Schwarzenegger she will take his prisoners

Jennifer Granholm is the Governor of Michigan - she is also a Democrat.

So much for family values, progressive ideas and social justice. She was an attorney general prior to taking over the Governor's position, but I am disappointed in her latest efforts to rid California prisons of their excessive prisoners and move them to Michigan.

I do not claim to know what the answer is in this instance, but I do know that families of incarcerated victims suffer needlessly - to move them thousands of miles away just to satisfy justice seems to be cruel and unusual punishment.

According to an article in Slate Magazine today, Ms. Granholm has contacted Governor Schwarzenegger and is going to have Michigan follow the likes of Oklahoma and Tennessee in taking inmates from California to ensure that these inmates have a place to land.

This does not bode well - can we not parole these individuals, assuming they are not guilty of violent crimes? Can we put them on work release? There have to be other solutions - anyone out there have any ideas?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Unemployment and underemployment

The new numbers are in and they are staggering - 10.2% unemployment - higher in NYC -where I happen to be underemployed - yes, I have pretty much given up on the idea of getting a job with benefits or a full time job until the economy rebounds. It is 15.3% in Michigan where most of my immediate family resides, as of September of this year. The overarching figure of underemployed is 17.5% and for those who have been unemployed for six months or longer (and dependent on savings, separation pay and extended jobless benefits), their numbers are a whopping 35.6%. These figures tell a story, folks. The economy is working for some, but the average American is still struggling to find their way.

According to this excerpt from an editorial piece in the NY Times today: "President Obama said that "bold, innovative action would be needed from the Administration, Congress and the private sector - to undo the devastation in the labor market."

These are difficult times indeed - the figures also do not take into account the staggering rate of unemployment amongst teens ages 16-19 - 27.6%. This figure is particularly of interest to me as I am a mother of a 20 year old who is fortunately employed, but a 22 year old who has been unemployed for some 2-3 years on and off.

I await some direction and guidance from the administration - in the meantime, I, as do many other adults my age, continue to complete our degrees and hope that when the economy does finally turn around, I can be gainfully employed once more.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Massacre at Fort Hood

The day began as normally as any other.

At around 4 in the afternoon, I logged on to CNN, taking a brief respite from the website editing that I was working on.

I could scarcely grasp the headline. How could this happen? The largest army base in the world attacked by one of their own - it was unthinkable - a day and a half later, it is still inconceivable.

It is time for the President to bring back the draft. These soldiers have had it - enough of the frequent deployments - enough of the war zones creating havoc with their minds and senses - enough of using them up and wearing them out! If we had a draft, there would be enough soldiers to fight these damn senseless wars and only do two rotations at an estimate. If we had a draft, maybe, just maybe, those senators who vote on wars would have to send their own sons and daughters to war, not just some other person's kids - maybe they would think harder before engaging in needless wars and conflicts - maybe they would realize first hand what it means to lose one's life in the service of the country.

I immediately phoned a friend whose daughter is stationed at Fort Hood, in that very building, no less - she was, thank God, not in the office yesterday. An angel was clearly in her path to preclude her witnessing the carnage. She will, however, as a medic, have to deal with the aftermath and loss of colleagues - the friend was grateful for the call, having no idea of the events that had unfolded.

We may never know what pushed this mental health professional over the edge - this physician clearly could not heal himself and the thought of going overseas to fight in an unjust conflict might just have been too much for him.

I have thought often of my barely missing the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, having had my Green Card reissued there just prior to the bombing, of the RAF bombing at the Frankfurt Airport in the 80's - just a week prior to flying through - of countless near misses with the IRA bombings growing up in London - what I know for sure is that God has a plan for all of us - if it is not our time to go, even at the unthinkable hands of another, it is not our time to go - this friend's child has served one term in Iraq and has three small children, one of whom is a baby - it was clearly not her time to go.

My heart goes out to those who have lost lives and to their loved ones - what an agonizing time for our nation and the great state of Texas.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Women and the priesthood

I recall distinctively the first church I attended with a woman minister - it was Reverend Raggs from an Episcopal church in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Almost two years ago, I met an amazing seminarian who is married to the Priest in Charge at the church where I worship sometimes with my mother - her name is Joanne. She is a former nurse and is my inspiration for returning to school - specifically, she graduated from Concordia College and is the reason I picked that school over Mercy College.

Joanne is soft spoken, with expressive brown eyes, an amazing smile, a wit that is quite sharp and a woman who has seen her share of loss and pain. Her first husband died, leaving her to tend to her small family.

Enter Father Joe, a close friend of the family who helped her through this most difficult of times - they became very close and ultimately fell in love - he eventually chose to leave the Catholic church and they married some 10 years ago.

I digress - the woman priest who is now Reverend Joanne is a remarkable woman - having served for years as the head nurse in a major hospital, she gets womens' issues, mens' issues and wants to truly make the world a more equitable place in which to live.

Having a former spouse who is openly gay and many gay friends and being a strong gay rights advocate, I was pleased to hear in Joanne's first sermon that "all are welcome" at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Hartsdale New York.

Some weeks ago, we learned that during a peer review, she had received some rather scathing feedback on her sermons. She lost sleep that week, and we in the parish were all surprised. We have heard her preach on numerous occasions and have found her to be intelligent, thoughtful, insightful and filled with wisdom and a great vision for our little parish.

As I walked in to the church yesterday and saw Joanne in her robes of the priesthood for the first time, I wept openly. She was a vision of grandeur and looked every bit the part of a priest. The service was lovely - officiating was her husband. Though I have seen the two work in tandem many times over this last year or so, yesterday was rather poignant.

Joanne is going to be a fine priest and for those in other churches - such as the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church - who do not think that women should have this sacred right are mistaken.

Yesterday, a friend asked whether women in the Catholic Church would be allowed into the priesthood before men are allowed to marry in that faith - it is a toss-up, but I think that women will be allowed into the priesthood first.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Old World Barber Shop in Hartsdale

I have spent many happy hours in barber shops. Being the mother of 4 boys, when we could afford haircuts, spending time hanging out with men was obligatory and a part of their upbringing.

My favorite barber shop was next to the shop where I got my hair done in Salt Lake City, Utah. Adjacent to TLC Elegante was the place where the Utah Jazz players got their hair cut regularly. I would sneak furtive glances at the hot guys while awaiting my boys as they got their hair "faded."

There is a new barber shop in the town in which I presently reside. The Old World Barber Shop is family owner and the owner is Michelle. She and her husband are 100% Italian, having immigrated to the States in 1971. The store opened in August and they have had around 30 customers to date.

The family went to San Diego for a while but didn't like it - they missed the seasons and returned to NY.

Their original shop was in Dobbs Ferry and they sold it when they moved to California.

Now they are hitching their star to Hartsdale in a spot that was previously a barber shop - a very successful one at that. They hope to make it and I hope that they do to.

Do me a favor - skip Fantastic Sam's and try Old World - you will be pleasantly surprised. One is always surprised at locally owned businesses, after all.

The recession's racial divide

Barbara Ehrenreich and Dedrick Muhammad have done an amazing job of elucidating the issues faced by African American families in the past few years. Theirs is a story of being classless, of being middle class and falling into a black hole. Unemployed and underemployed, in strong jobs earning substantially one day and unemployed the next.

I can relate to this story on many levels. I was working as a political appointee to the mayor of a major US Capital city for over 5 years. During that time, I developed a disability - bipolar disorder. In the beginning, it was a relatively easy transition - my boss, the chief of staff, was accomodating, as the ADA required him to be - the subsequent chief of staff was equally accomodating - I shall never forget his kindness as I wrestled with mood swings, exacerbated by stress and numerous changes in medication. Unfortunately for me, the last chief of staff had a sister who was bipolar. She was always "on and off her meds" and " in and out of jail" - how do I know that? Because he told me so in a closed meeting in his office. I filed a grievance against him and did not prevail - I naively thought that the system would work in my favor.

I subsequently became unemployed when I could no longer work in such a stressful environment with an overbearing and discriminatory boss - I resigned under great duress. I loved my job and made an above average salary for a woman.

I am now homeless, living doubled up with my mum - it is a wonderful place to live, please don't misunderstand me - I just want to make it very clear that I am homeless, statistically speaking, nonetheless. I am moving out to my own place in December and shall miss my mum - she has been my friend, roomate, confidante and rock.

Some of my black brothers and sisters are not as lucky - indeed a classmate is a former employee of UBS - she is living in a hotel with her family after having lost her home as well after becoming unemployed.

That story we hear about - 1 paycheck away from the streets - as a former volunteer at the homeless shelter, and as a person who was forced from her home as she could not commit to a one year lease - I can testify to that.

If you have the means, please donate to your local shelters and foodbanks - if you have family in transition and have the space, please, please, please, take them in.

Just more food for thought and one person's opinion.

Drama at the US Open

The Williams sisters have dominated womens' tennis for the last several years.

Last evening, Serena had a meltdown. Frustrated and upset, she threatened one of the linesmen after a call was made out of her favor. It was not just that the call was against her - it cost her the match point.

Serena has been playing tennis since she was a tot. I recall reading about her and Venus in Time magazine and other prriodicals. Their Father insisted that they not participate in professional tennis until they were of an appropriate age - would that more sporting parents felt that way.

I digress. I did not see the match last evening - I was out shopping with my mom and best friend. Indeed, given the recent rain and my school schedule, I have not seen much of the US Open this year at all.

Last evening, we surfed back and forth between channels and could not find the game. In the wee hours of the morning, I got the news on my mobile device: Serena had lost the match after having "threatened" a referee.

In the light of morning, I discussed this rationally with my mother. Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, and others have been the proverbial "bad boys" of tennis. Women tend to be more ladylike.

Let us not forget that it is due to the Williams sisters that women earn the same amount of monies for grand slam tournaments as men do. Let us not forget that they are amazing players who have given the US and indeed the world, some remarkable playing time. They are human with weaknesses and foibles.

I say let's give her a break and cut her some slack.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Customer service and a pair of Dutch clogs

I went to my local Best Buy recently. I was having a problem with my mobile phone that I purchased recently. It is a cute phone - cute and practical. Not as great as the IPhone, but it works for me - it is the Sanyo SCP 2700 and it is pink with flowers adorning it. I know, I know - but I can't help it - I am a girl.

Prior to going to the phone area, I went to the return counter where I returned a memory card that would not fit my phone - I had, unfortunately received bad information from another Best Buy store. The line was not particularly long, but the customers ahead of me had seemingly complex returns. I went to another associate to ask if we could possibly open up another register. They could not accomodate my request, but when I explained that I have a disability and cannot stand for prolonged periods of time due to the two herniated disks in my back, he immediately set about getting me a chair to rest my weary bones. Talk about customer service.

The person in line behind me was frustrated - she needed to be at the train station to pick up her sister - her name was Annette - named after Annette Funicello - her father had actually named her. It occurred to me that I did not know after whom I was named. I do know that my father had wanted me to be "Sandy" were I a boy, but I was his second daughter as fate would have it.

I felt so badly for the person in line, Annette - she was clearly not having a good day - we chatted briefly and her son sat in my now vacated chair - I reached into my bag after having asked her if she had ever been to Holland - she said she had, albeit only at the airport - but there nonetheless. I handed her a tiny pair of Delft clogs that I had purchased only that day at the tag sale at the Church in the Highlands.

We hugged and I felt good about myself - it was a small thing, but I would like to think that I made her day in a miniscule way.

Great customer service from Best Buy as usual - no wonder they are top in their field - and a new friend - not bad for a few minutes online.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

White House advisor Van Jones resigns

This is most unfortunate news to receive in the middle of the night.

Van Jones has been a pivotal voice in green policies for years. He has been extolled from Valerie Jarrett to President Obama and everyone else inbetween.

Republicans, frustrated and still not quite getting the fact that they LOST the election - are acting out with sour grapes. They dug deep and found a signature of Van Jones on a petition regarding the previous administration's dealings and possible collusion with 9-11. Additionally, they found a clip of him "talking trash" about President Bush and using unflattering profanities to describe both him and the Republican party.

It is unfortunate that this amazing individual has been so villified, and even polarized and used as a catalyst to deflect the nation's attention from the pressing issue of healthcare to his poor choice of words - frankly, I have used profanities when referring to the Bush-Cheney administration and their poor choices.

Farewell Van - you will be missed.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Flying the friendly skies

Yesterday, I flew from the White Plains New York Regional Airport to West Palm Beach, Florida. In typical fashion, I flew Jet Blue. Their fares are simply unbeatable - add to that a buddy pass now and again, and one has a winning combination.

I was at a social gathering recently and heard a pilot speak disparagingly of Jet Blue. His father was a union man and the fact that Jet Blue can offer such low fares really gripes him. I told him that given my present budget, while I would love to support an “American and union” company, with all the safety nets in place, but I have to fly with the airline that best suits my needs. Given the extra leg room (I have a disability and need the extra space), and my own personal flat screen TV (where I watched the US Open yesterday), I am not sure that even if I wanted to pay more money to fly with a “union” airline, I would. In other words, Jet Blue’s success does not hinge upon money alone.

Jet Blue has minimal overhead. Their call center is small. Their agents operate out of their homes in the great Salt Lake Valley of Utah. I know this because I was almost offered a job with them after leaving the Mayor’s office of Salt Lake City. The reason for applying for a job with an airline was quite simple: Miles, baby, buddy passes. I love to travel and don’t get to do so near as much as I would like to. Their staffers are mainly stay at home moms - by and large from the Utah Valley and needing a little extra income to augment their family’s monthly budget. Utah is the state in the nation with the largest number of personal bankruptcy filings. I know this because I lived there for over 7 years and the leaders of the predominant faith (LDS Church) took great pains to try to educate their members not to incur unnecessary debt. Small wonder that many mums with larger families, a la Utah Mormon style, are flocking to a company that allows them to fly to Disney land and NYC and Buffalo and the West Indies and Puerto Rico. If Jet Blue ever flies to Hawaii, I am sunk - I have a dear friend there who is expecting me next year - if I get a decent flight from Jet Blue, I will be likely to visit her annually. I am not sure if she is up for a visit from me every year - but I guess if I keep to the fish and company rule, I should be fine.

The founder of Jet Blue is LDS or Mormon and a shrewd businessman, hence the purchase of used planes, no large call center - though Utah is home to the likes of 1-800-CONTACTS. He is committed to paying average Utah wages and basing his operation in a right to work state. All these are keys to success. He is likely going to be the Donald Trump of the airline business if he keeps this up.

Today, I interviewed his spokesperson, Alison Croyle, and learned that he has since moved on. A new face is at the helm of this flagship of airlines: Dave Barger. Every month, Dave flies the friendly skies, working alongside crewmembers, taking out trash, recycling and bidding flyers adieu. He is a hands on kind of man - he wants to see the flying experience first hand and takes his job very seriously as he interacts with customers.

He lives the 5 "Jet Blue Commandments" shall we call them:
1. Safety
2. Caring
3. Integrity
4. Fun
5. Passion

On my flight yesterday, I noted the amazing difference between the Jet Blue crew members and those of say Northwest and Delta they are not angry because of union negotiations gone bad. They are happy to do their respective jobs - they seem to find pleasure in ensuring that the customer is number one and do not mutter under their breaths, even when I asked for an extra snack (I am borderline type II diabetic) of Animal Crackers, my flight attendant was most gracious and accommodating. Fortunately for me, I have maintained a negative type II status since having lost some 50 lbs and can now fit more comfortably in a plane seat. The crew is made up of mostly “family” members . This is no surprise, as it is a service-based industry and works very well with the personalities of “family” members. Indeed, my interaction with staffers indicated that the company was “extremely gay friendly.” I am going to see about having Jet Blue sponsor an event I am putting together at the Metropolitan Museum in the very near future.

I interacted with two business persons on the plane -a power couple - she an IBM staffer, he a consultant, doing the same as I - carving out a niche for himself after having been laid off. Natasha is a mother of two small children. We both bemoaned the fact that there is no place on a plane to take care of small children, be that nursing them, or getting them to calm down. I know how stressful flying can be - I have anxiety and am generally the last one on the plane and the last one off.

Now that my consulting business is taking off and my writing is becoming more popular, I might be able to choose another airline, but I think I will stick with Blue - Jet Blue that is.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Obama Aides Aim to Simplify and Scale Back Health Bills

This is the news I had been waiting for.

For almost two years, I have been sans insurance. I am one of 46 million Americans without same. Given that I have a few serious health concerns, including Bi-Polar disorder, my quandary about getting insurance becomes a larger dilemma with each passing day.

Next year, I will have exhausted my option to receive "charity care" through the amazing Westchester County Medical Center. This program allows me to see a doctor and get medicines filled once a month - all at no cost. The program has been scaled back significantly given the economy and I barely qualified for it this year, which is interesting, given that I work part time at a non profit, hence my salary could not possibly be that huge. I have just received word that my income is going to increase significantly and therefore will not be eligible for the "charity care" safety net next year. I am worried - very worried indeed.

If worse comes to worse and this healthcare bill does not pass (though after today's revelations, I suspect it will), I will be forced to quit school and go back to England or move to Canada where I can avail myself of their services as a British subject. What a sad state of affairs.

Obama has clearly seen the writing on the wall - he cannot trust congress and those who receive kickbacks from the drug manufacturers to have the best interests of the American public at heart. He is taking a personal role in this debate, when he wanted to stay above the proverbial fray.

I can't wait to see what he has to say. It will be 16 years since Bill Clinton gave his famous speech on healthcare, according to the NY Times article that I am referencing.

Change is coming to America - I welcome it!

Cafe Angelique in the village and a day in Manhattan

I love the village. It is quirky, funky, quintessentially New York and hip with great coffee places, boutiques et al. It is my favorite place to hang out in the city after the museums, that is.

Yesterday, I was there with my sweetie after a quick trip to the Metropolitan. It was a busy day - I had business to attend to and my consulting firm is finally picking up steam. I just added a new partner who is based in California - her name is Andrea Moore Emmett, author of the amazing God's Brothel - a story about polygamy, published in Ms. Magazine, participant in Bridging the Religious Divide - former NOW President - her bio is amazing and I can't believe we are friends. She is remarkable.

I met a phenomenal woman. She was in Cafe Angelique and is expecting her second baby boy - she looked absolutely radiant! I told her so as I noted the beautiful flowing orange shirt she wore over her beautiful bulging tummy. She has just one month left until her delivery and is in her 40's. Her name is Jennifer. She is married 11 years to her soul mate and her face lights up when she speaks of him - I am not generally cynical, but can be about love. Now that I have found my life partner and soul mate, I am less cynical.

Kevin gets me in a way no other man has before him - he is there for me through it all - ups and downs, a cheerleader, someone who wants to see me succeed and who gives me space, time and room to breathe. He is a breath of fresh air and I thank God I found him. After all I have gone through in life, even my horrible divorce and the coming out of my former husband that precipitated it, after my highs and lows, unemployment and underemployment, he continues to be there for me. He is absolutely not like my former husband in any way, except for the Irish roots. When Kevin is gone from me for more than a few days, I can't breathe - that's how much I love him.

Jennifer would like me to meet her soul mate and husband and I hope I do. I also want to go on a double date to the Met some Friday night to listen to the concerts - our first date almost two years ago. We have built a strong foundation for this relationship and no matter what, I promise to love him forever......come what may.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Villagiano Italiano - girls just want to have fun or wine, pizza and the US Open

The aforementioned is my local pizza eatery in Hartsdale. In fact, it was one of the first places I sought out when I moved here almost two years ago. I visited all of the locally owned stores and shoppes, and interviewed all of the owners, from tailors to dry cleaners, cheese shops and my favorite interviewee - Kat from Giangemi Tailors. I was hoping to create a "Local First" group here. That project has now been taken over by some interns in the amazing Paul Feiner, as in, Greenburgh Town Supervisor's office. Paul Feiner is an absolute genius and along with Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy has served several terms and should be the exception for term limits.

Fast forward two years almost and I was in that eatery ordering pizza for dinner, having driven my mum's car to pick it up. I don't get to drive frequently as I don't have a car these days The bus and subway can get me pretty much anywhere I need to go and if not, I rent a car with a friend. It works

I don't eat pizza often as I have lost 50 pounds and am trying to be healthy. I saw two friends engaged in conversation. One of the women had a beautiful purse. I had to compliment her on it. Turns out it came from a local store - we traded stories about deals we had gotten and I told her to check out Kat at Giangemi custom tailors. As fate would have it, she already knows Kat and has been to some sort of purse trade shows with her. Girls just want to have fun and fun was had last night by us all for a few minutes in Villagiano Italiano - Ciao.

I came home and we watched the US Open women's match where we watched Venus kick butt, wounded knee notwithstanding. We munched on the delicious pizza and drank Pinot Grigio from another local wine store (I love local stores) and rounded out the evening watching a couple of episodes of Scrubs from season 8. I love my son and my family.

I am blessed indeed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Do teachers need education degrees?

In the August 16th Room for Debate in the NY Times online edition, Robert Stolarik asks this question in a provocative piece.

According to reports and this article, President Obama is considering tying teacher salaries not to their education, but to the success of their students. This man is good - when he gets it right, he just plain gets it right.

Years ago when my kids were in school, they would, on occasion come to me to whine to me about a particular teacher who was giving them a hard time in their perception. I would invariably tell them that their job was to be a good student and to always remember that their teachers already had their education - their job was to get theirs now, too.

Obama has struck on one of the fundamental and core problems in public schools. The reason children continue to fail in inner city schools and why charter schools are on the rise is simple: Teachers continue to get paid no matter the graduation rate of their students. If their pay were tied to success, we would see a mighty change occurring in our school system.

I taught preschool in a former life, my children attended both private and public schools. I became a parent volunteer in the public schools when private school was no longer an option. I knew that it was the only way for me to truly know what was occurring in the schools and with the teachers. I was not wealthy by any means - indeed, I stocked the shelves in a 24 hour mega store in order to be at home for those times when I needed to be in the school volunteering with my children. I had great relationships with all of the teachers of my children. I worked alongside them and they trusted me. My children all did exceptionally well in school and one was even on the National Honor Roll.

When I divorced and was forced to work full time during the day, I was no longer able to be in the schools and had moved to the state in the nation with the lowest per capita student spending - Utah. Not only was student spending an issue, but the textbooks were old (President Reagan was listed as being President in my son's text book when he was 12 - he is 23 now - you can do the math) - and minority students were dropping out of school at an alarming rate. Indeed, they continue to do so with no intervention from either the UEA (Utah's teachers' union), nor the Legislature. I am convinced that if Mormon kids were dropping out at the same rates, there would be special sessions convened at the Legislature until the issue was adequately addressed.

Fortunately for me, two of my children are now in college (the oldest is on hiatus, en route to Puerto Rico and will reconvene his studies in a year when he has established residency) and the youngest is on the honor roll in his elementary school. The forgotten and left behind child is currently serving time in a Michigan state prison and is working on his GED. I raised this beloved child with the same goals and parameters, the same expectations, but he has two disadvantages - he suffers from depression and has a learning disability. No-one but the most dedicated teacher/guidance counselor could have saved him from himself.

The appeal to Senator Hatch's office is in the works and we are awaiting a decision.

No child left behind is a cute catch phrase - Obama has the guts to make it a reality.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Farewell to Ted Kennedy

For the second time in as many months, I write farewell to a great man - one who has touched the lives of countless people, one who struggled with personal demons and one who was extremely complicated.

First Michael Jackson and now Ted Kennedy - of course, the two men can hardly be compared in the same breath, strictly speaking, but they have left huge footprints on the world nevertheless.

No matter one's political persuasion, no matter what one's thoughts on adultery and Ted's alleged philandering, one has to recognize the enormity of his passing. The Kennedy family has suffered the death of too many members - yes, I know that Ted was not particularly young, but I wanted so much for him to see his life's work - the healthcare reform bill - pass before he left this world.

His legacy will now be carried on by someone else - someone with huge shoes to fill.

With any luck, Caroline will rethink her decision not to enter politics and return to the field in the future for a seat in New York City politics - heck - maybe even the national stage - and then I won't feel so sad after all.

God bless the Kennedys as they mourn the passing of this amazing man.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rainbows, Yankee games, date night with Donald and his wife

I was called a rainbow today by someone for whom I care greatly - it made my day. I suppose the fact that I am in love makes me more aware of couples these days.

As I made my way to the subway after bidding my friend "adieu", I reflected on how far we have come in our relationship in the almost two years we have been "not" seeing each other. I was on the subway, lost in my thoughts and not really doing my customary people watching as I was so preoccupied with having been called a rainbow - I was feeling really good about myself.

Shaken from my reverie, I noted an attractive all-American blonde couple board the train somewhere between Union Square and Grand Central. They were laughing and got separated from another couple during the melee that permeates the subway on days when the Yankees are playing. (During my brief interview, I learned that the four are friends and that while the other couple is dating, they are not married - yet).

I watched them almost envious, and then I remembered my farewell with my friend. They were very much in love - it was obvious that they were either newlyweds or had been married for a very long time. They teased each other in that intimate way that makes one feel amost like a voyeur when one observes it in public - it was so very tender and made me miss my friend almost painfully, though we had parted only minutes before. He teased her and patted her on the bum - she told him she was a married woman - he said in that case he would do it again - and so it went.....

Finally, I just had to ask them - I had to know how long they had been married. Donald introduced me to his wife of seven years - (forgive me, I do not recall her name and I neglected to pull out my always-handy notebook until after they had exited the train) - they have had 3 children during that time - it is her second marriage and his first - she had a first marriage in her young twenties - just like I did - he had never married and married her "later in life" she said.

They had visited Utah and we chatted briefly about my political work there. We spoke of my former boss, the mayor of Salt Lake City and his partnership with Governor Huntsman to get rid of private clubs and loosen alcohol laws - Donald's boyish looks reminded me of the handsome former Governor, Jon Huntsman - I told him so. I asked them how often they had "date night" - they told me they did so very often. They go skiing together, go to Yankees games together, live in New York City and seem to have a wonderful life.

I wish I had had the time to interview them properly for this story - I gave them my card so with any luck, they will email me with the name of the wife - apologies again - and maybe I can add some more to this post.

In conclusion, I was thrilled to be called a rainbow by this man whom I love so deeply, but to see this couple so obviously in love really made my day - not just for me, but for all the couples out there.

Statistically, this second marriage will be harder for her to maintain - this is his first and we know what those odds are - in their case, they are planning to stay married - they are spending time getting to know each other on a regular basis and know each other very intimately - I can tell.

Donald is one lucky guy and his wife is a lucky girl.....I hope they will write or call and maybe we can have a glass of wine at the Metropolitan Museum some Friday night during the classical music concerts that are so hugely popular among couples and friends alike. A double date, maybe?

Love really is forever.

What should colleges teach

There is a fascinating story in the NY Times late online edition from last evening.

Stanley Fish, a professor of law at Florida International University and a few other select fine institutions writes an amazing piece about core competencies taught in colleges, or not being taught, with particular emphasis on the lack of college writing being taught - as in - not enough or no grammar, rather the syllabus is watered down and students will learn anything from ideas about movies, novels, to having hot-button topic discussions and the like.

I am returning to school after an 11 year hiatus - I feel like a novice and certainly like a freshman. My bags are all packed with the requisite books and pens, including a shiny new highlighter and a book on grammar which I received at orientation last week - a book on grammer. Me the linguist, the trilingual speaker gets to have her very own book on grammar. No more stumbling around in the dark, struggling for sentence structure, verbs, adverbs, adjectives etc. I wil have at my fingertips a book that will help me to become a better writer.

I had originally intended to attend a college much closer to my home. On reflection and after checking into the courses, I decided to pursue an accelerated degree specifically tailored for working adults. While I work only part time, due to the economy and a debilitating disability (at times), I know that the demands on my schedule will be extraordinary - some 10-20 hours of homework and study time required a week as well as one night a week in class.

The core competencies are strongly emphasized at Concordia College in Bronxville, NY and I know that in the program I have found a perfect fit for both my personality and a path to place me on track to have completed my Master's in Public Administration or Social Work by the time I am 50.

I am a published writer and have been writing for years. Indeed, the last college course I took, my professor wanted me to enroll in the honors program, she was so impressed with my work. I had other commitments and declined at the time. Would that I had chosen otherwise. When I received my class schedule last week, I was surprised to see that I would be expected to take an Introduction to College Writing course. After attending the orientation, I immediately understood why. I needed the introduction course for a foundation to be able to write better papers during my college years - I have a fairly decent start, but one can always use all the help one can get - in this case - Introduction to College Writing - I have already started reading the text book and am salivating at the conversations we will have in class about grammar and syntax and the like.

Colleges are institutions for higher learning and thinking - critical thinking. They should truly be about the business of causing their students to reach down deep and engage in thinking that they never would have imagined prior to matriculating.

I have chosen well and am ready for my new journey. I might even finish that autobiography.

Concordia, here I come!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The princess problem

For a couple of years in another lifetime and when I had the luxury of doing something I loved and not needing to support a family, I had the blessing of being a preschool teacher. It was the one job I truly loved in my soul. I was good at it, my kids loved me, my bosses adored me and made me a trainer for their beloved science curriculum for other teachers and my supervisor wept when I left for greener pastures.

What I learned during those years of being around girls is that girls are by and large reared by their fathers (and yes, their mothers too) to think of themselves as princesses. Don't misunderstand me - I think that a natural part of a girl's development requires that she be a princess - she needs to feel special and pretty and have a dream that one day a prince charming might come along and sweep her off her feet.

Unbeknownst to my bosses, I would create stories for my children at story time that were not part of the curriculum - they were "Miss Annette" stories - I lived in Kentucky at the time and the title was a formal one. I would tell stories of broken families, families with no children, families with just one parent - children being reared by grandparents - In those days, I would not have dared speak of same sex parents, but I would today. I digress.

One of my favorite stories to recount to the children was about a princess. She was a beautiful girl and loved her father very much (her parents were either divorced or the mother had died - likely the latter, given the Disney angle that the stories took on for the most part) - she lived in a beautiful castle - of course - where else would a princess live? and had been raised in Europe (hey - I am European, so it is not a stereotype) in the breathtaking Alps. When she reached the age of maturity or coming out, her father set about finding her a mate. He searched through all the surrounding kingdoms and could not find a suitable man - he searched for years, all in vain. Finally, he wept and told his daughter that he had failed her.

His daughter was wise for her years (of course she was - she was my creation) - and told her father not to worry - she would find a husband herself. She decided that in order to have a husband, she needed a career, so she set about going to college, which was unheard of in that day, and learned how to be an excellent manager. Years later, she still had not found her prince, but she was happy and fulfilled in life with her circle of friends, her church and her volunteer activities.

One day, a man came into her life who turned out to be the prince she had sought - no white horse, no kingdom, nothing to offer but his love, support and a decent job - they lived together in bliss. The moral of the story, I told my enraptured little ones - was that they might grow up and find a prince, and they might not - the trick is to be happy with what you have in life, not with what you want and can't have.

And now to the meat of the story. A couple of weeks ago in a USA Today public forum piece, "The Princess Problem" came to light again. I have discussed this with a friend on more than one occasion. These are women who are raised to expect a man to take care of them. My friend and I believe that a man is more likely to be attracted to a woman who can take care of herself - indeed, if either wants to take care of a mate in a co-dependent relationship, someone should seek counseling - but fast!

The article speaks of professional women in great jobs who are just biding their time until they marry and can move to the suburbs, essentially - waiting for their prince.

Women still earn less than men on average, thank God for Obama's pay equality legislation - however, in this economic downturn, more and more women are finding themselves as the main breadwinner in their families.

I was most fortunate some 27 years ago - I met an amazing man with whom I fell deeply in love. The marriage did not last, but that is not the point of this article. What I loved about him the most was his willingness to let me choose for myself whether I wanted to be a princess (stay at home mother) or work outside of the home. The two of us were both devout Mormons at the time and that religion pretty much dictated that a woman stay home during the formative years of her children.

Being a full time mother was not an easy transition, and never was a very good fit, but I made it work, because my church demanded it and I thought that it would be the best thing for my children. Unfortunately, the marriage did not last. Fifteen years later, it came crashing down around my ears, and while I had taught preschool initially during the marriage to support my partner during school, knew that I would not be able to support my children on such an income.

The moral of the story is that we should not raise our daughters to be princesses - we should raise them to be educated, resilient and strong women - they don't have to "need" a man to feel "needed" - that is the icing on the proverbial cake - to be needed, that is - to have a man love you is the greatest and most choice blessing in the world - that is why God ordained marriage and why he/she wants us not to be alone - it is not the natural state of being.

Princesses, throw away those damn tiaras and glass slippers and quit looking - find your own kind of happy and he will come along when you least expect it - just don't expect him to "complete" you, or to provide for you - that is just not fair!

Feedback appreciated.......

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What men want

A friend of mine is going through his second divorce. When we met almost two years ago, he was emotionally shattered - a shell of a man. He is a devoted father to his children and when his first wife left him, he was shocked - she simply decided that she no longer wanted to be a mother to their three adolescent children. Fast forward a few years, he married someone else, not knowing her that well (they dated a mere few months) and after raising their one child together for a few years, she decided that she, too, would leave, taking the child far away and having the one thing she always wanted - a child of her own - her very own, that is - and some padding in her bank account. Fortunately, he has weathered the storm and has rebounded and is doing nicely - in a few months, he will be ready to date and who knows what will happen in his life after that - I predict only good things will come to him in the world of relationships - he has learned a great deal about women and himself with the help of a great therapist - thank God for those!

I just read an interesting story on AOL Health about this same scenario - that is, women who give up their relationships for their children. I was in the opposite situation in my marriage of 15 years - my former spouse spent far more time with the children than he did with me - to the point that I became resentful of their movie dates, football games and wrestling on the living room floor (I have four sons). Looking back, it was his way of telling me that he didn't want a wife (he is gay), but wanted the package of children - no surprise that three of the four boys live with him by their own choosing.

What men want is a woman who is devoted to them above their children - they have no desire to be second on the totem pole, and frankly, nor should they be. They deserve to have that same love and desire that brought the couple together initially - granted, those levels change some with motherhood, hormones and such, but basically, they want to be needed.

Men also want a woman who has a life - she needs to have a focus - a career, school, hobbies, volunteer work - something that she does with no attachment to her spouse - something that makes her who she is in and of herself.

Men want a woman who is not afraid to be vulnerable - I heard about that book "Why men love bitches" and was told to read it and decided against it - The men I know don't love bitches, they love good and caring women.

Just one woman's opinion, but I know men really, really well......

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Michael Vick - now with the Philadelphia Eagles

Michael Vick has managed the unthinkable - after being imprisoned for almost two years for his role in bankrolling dogfighting rings at properties he owns, he has been released, worked in his neighborhood in construction and now with children and has scored a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

I am thrilled for him and can only say that I hope he will not squander this opportunity. He has stated that prison was truly a turning point for him and that he does not desire to repeat his errors.

In America, we believe that incarceration is ultimately in place to correct the behavior of individuals - once that individual has served their time, no matter the crime, no matter the length of time served - they have satisfied society's rules.

Michael Vick has earned a second chance - I, for one, am rooting for him - think "Shawshank Redemption."

Robert's Rules of Order

A couple of years ago whilst employed as a political appointee, I attended more meetings than I care to even recall. They were mostly community council meetings, some city council meetings and other meetings, with a few town hall meetings thrown in for good measure.

I have been purposely quiet on the debacle surrounding the healthcare townhall meetings. It is clear that these attendees who have been sent there to disrupt these important hearings have never heard of Robert's Rules of Order - basically, meeting decorum 101 for dummies is a good analogy.

Most of the meetings I attended were respectful, well-led, appropriate and even when individuals did not agree with one another, there was a sense of decorum that presided, thankfully.

I respect the right of misinformed dissenters to disrupt these meetings, but maintain that there is a time and a place, and certainly a way to get one's feelings heard.

Enough said.

Who lives and who dies -

I was fortunate to live in the amazing and beautiful, albeit it economically depressed (highest unemployment in the nation as of most recent statistics) state of Michigan. I was there when Dr. Jack Kevorkian became notorious for his desire to help patients end their lives with dignity and respect.

I have a chronic illness - and while it is highly unlikely that I should become incapacitated as a result of this, I would always want to have the right to die should that be my choice.

I was happy to read today that a court in Australia has given a fully-functional (in his brain) quadraplegic man the right to die with dignity - the story is on CNN - feedback as always, is appreciated.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Why gay guys are churchier than their straight brethren

I read this interesting story online today and wanted to share it.

Some years ago, after cutting ties to the Mormon/LDS Church, I found myself with many gay friends primarily because of the advocacy and outreach work I had been doing as a board member at the local Pride Center, a member of a PAC, Equality Utah and lobbying efforts to protect gay marriage in the state of Utah. As I reflect back on those happy days, I realize that the reason I became so aligned with gays is because as a woman of color, I totally understand their feelings of disenfranchisement, particularly vis-a-vis religion.

I left the Mormon Church because I felt disenfranchised as a woman of color living in Utah and recognized that their treatment towards gays was not unlike their treatment of my race prior to the ACLU threatening to bring a lawsuit in the late 1970's, which resulted in their extending full membership to all blacks who wanted to join the Mormon Church.

Gays are inherently spiritual, just as all of us are - we are all God's children. The judgements and mistreatments that gays experience causes them to reach out spiritually to one another and to organized religion - I attended many religious services with my gay friends, including my first commitment ceremony - complete with music, candles, two pianos and a wonderful loving couple who professed their love and commitment to one another in the state of Utah, which did not even want to recognize their being, much less their love.

I am happy to share this article with you today and welcome your feedback.

Here is the link:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cash for clunkers - "read my lips - no new taxes"

Cash for clunkers received a 2 billion dollar infusion from the Senate last week. Apparently the program is so popular, dealers are overwhelmed with the influx of individuals wanting to get rid of their gas-guzzling vehicles.

I have driven my share of gas guzzlers over the years, I am embarassed to say. Mostly it was out of necessity - I had four children and needed a large station wagon to get them around from point a to point b. Today, there are many more options for parents, as Hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles are on the market and at a reasonable cost.

It is questionable how long the program will remain in place, given its hefty price tag.

Some are wondering whether the President will find himself like Bush senior, having to renege on a campaign promise not to raise taxes on the middle class - that would be those earning $250,000 a year or less. While I now work part time and am headed back to college in the fall, I am no longer considered middle class, but will watch these developments carefully.

Bill Clinton in North Korea

It is with much excitement that I write to recount that the North Koreans have decided to release the two US journalists from captivity and a sentence of hard labor in a prison camp.

Secretary Clinton had asked for their release in talks recently and her pleas apparently did not fall on deaf ears. According the AP, North Korean Leader Kim Jong II issued a "special pardon" freeing the journalists while former President Clinton made an unannounced visit to the country.

Flanked by his security detail and looking determined, former President Clinton arrived in Pyonyang in order to accomplish his mission.

It would appear that two Clintons are indeed better than one.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Swim club offers olive branch after racism allegations

Human rigts are basic inalienable rights. Human rights commissions are in most every ciy and state of the nation.

After reading this story earlier this week, I had a pretty good idea of how it would play out.

I was right - after closed door meetings with likely board members and attorneys, the powers that be at the exclusive swim club decided to extend an olive branch and ask the swimmers to return.

Why must we be compelled to do the right thing - and then, after having been exposed?

Read the story and tell me if you agree:

Friday, July 10, 2009

NAACP celebrates 100 years - "Much more work to do"

This amazing organization, envisioned and brought to reality by businessmen, spiritual leaders and the great thinkers of their time, has reached a milestone: 100 years and counting.

While great strides have been made, certainly along color lines, we have the first African-American President of the United States - the first Latina Supreme Court Justice Nominee in Sotomayor - life is good on the surface.

Dig a little deeper, and there is another story to be told: our jails continue to be full of a disproportionate number of African American males and Latinos - many of whom are involved in their first offense. A recent phone call to my former home state of Utah indicates that too many of our youth have to go south of the valley of Salt Lake, instead of being seen at a local courthouse, primarily because of overcrowding in the juvenile justice system, but a factor that plays into it is also race - many of the offenders are black and Latino.

The American dream is for far too many, being lived out in projects and subsidized housing: watching from the outside, as basketball players and presidents of corporations make exhorbitant amounts of monies.

Please read the compelling story by Benjamin Todd, current president of the NAACP on CNN today and share your thoughts:

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sanford should stay, two top South Carolina papers say

Well, well, well. Eliot Spitzer resigned from being Governor of New York over his prostitution scandal - adultery is adultery, whether with a mistress or a prostitute, the violation of marital covenants is something that most would frown upon, our over 50% of adulterous marriages notwithstanding.

I really think that Governor Sanford should follow Spitzer on this one. He broke the law, and for those of their state's residents serving in the service, that is tantamount to "conduct unbecoming an officer." We cannot have double standards for politicians who are sworn to uphold the law, particularly as it relates to members of the military.

Lt. Dan Choi is going to be on trial tomorrow for openly admitting to being gay. The same laws that are forcing him to be truthful about his sexual orientation should be the same laws used to judge the politicians who create the laws.

Sanford left the state, even the country, after spinning a tale of being alone hiking on the Appalachian Trail, when he was in fact in Argentina, with his mistress. What message does that send to his impressionable sons? Men everywhere, in fact?

I am surprised, although not entirely - to see that two of South Carolina's largest dailies are calling for him to remain in office. If he would lie to his wife and staff about his whereabouts in order to cover up an affair, what else would he do or not do?

Here is the link to the story - feedback appreciated:

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sanford's wife: "His career is not a concern of mine."

Finally, one of these powerful political allies/wives is standing up and not standing by her man. I have watched the wives of Bill Clinton, John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Rudolph Giuliani and countless others stand by their men during press conferences, professing forgiveness and yet appearing humiliated.

Sanford's wife is having none of it: She had a promising career on Wall Street prior to marrying him and professed recently that she and their children will be just fine, his philandering notwithstanding.

I am not telling anyone not to forgive a wayward spouse, I have, after all experienced adultery and forgiveness myself of a fashion - long story - What I am saying is that a woman or man who has been wronged deserves time to lick their wounds and heal from the onslaught of lies, betrayal and the inevitable glare of media cameras in the cases of those mentioned in this story.

Jenny Sanford is a strong woman in her own right - hell, maybe if they impeach him, they should nominate her to fill his time left in office - she has my support.

Farewell to the King of Pop

For my regular readers, you are well aware of my love of all things technical, including my new mobile device. It is from Sprint and is pink with flowers - a far cry from the other mobile devices and telephones I have used in the past - I can't help it - I love being a girl!

I was at lunch with a couple of friends yesterday and we had the usual discussion around work, family, gay issues and religion - great wine and conversation to be sure.

I came home and opted not to turn the computer on, instead fixing a supper of pasta salad and some really good wine. How is it that I am so connected and yet unconnected at times? Suffice it to say, I did not get the news of the King's passing from my mobile device, but from across the pond.

The call came from my sister in England - Michael Jackson was dead. How could this be? He was only 50 years old. She spoke with my mum - visibly upset and very teary. My 4 sisters and I grew up listening to the Jackson 5 - the Osmonds were peripheral, but the Jacksons were a HUGE influence on our family - from the music, to the clothes, to the fact that they were 5 siblings growing up together.

It would appear that not only was his death untimely, the cardiac arrest might have come about due to abuse of prescriptions according to his attorney and close family friend. It is a sad time for all of us - he was to begin a 50 locatino concert tour next month.

Farewell, Michael - you will be missed

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

NCY Teachers Paid to do Nothing

I wrote yesterday about the New York teachers' union wanting to have more influence over charter schools. I worried about this effort on a couple of levels - mostly the unrighteous dominion one.

A story on the AP wire about NY teachers who are under investigation caused me consternation. I recognize that teachers have a right to be heard and to keep their jobs and therefore their salaries whilst under investigation, but can't help but think that their time is better spent in administrative functions, like some 60% of those polled.

It is apparently in their contracts that they keep their jobs, and do nothing else whilst under investigation - even police officer accused of misconduct are assigned to desk jobs - what a colossal waste of taxpayer monies.

Here is the link to the story:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Unions seek bigger role in charter schools

I was a parent volunteer for years when my 3 sons were younger. I also taught preschool in Kentucky for two years. As a former educator and school volunteer, education reform has been close to my heart for a very long time. I was blessed to attend St. Luke's - a wonderful parochial school in London - I then attended a private girls' school: Silverthorne. My education made me the person I am today. While I have yet to complete my college education, (I was busy being a full time mum to my 3 sons at the time and then was a single parent raising 3 sons for 10 years) and taught preschool while their dad went to college, I know that a strong foundation in life begins with a good education. My children were blessed to attend a private preschool and my oldest continued in that tradition up until 1st grade.

Charter schools offer parents choices. Schools of choice are a crucial component in parenting of children who learn in a non-traditional way. I have one, perhaps two of those in my 4 sons. Two of them went to alternative high schools and one has since graduated and will attend University in the fall. The other will obtain his GED, a few years later than he should have - keep up the great work, Kyle. Kyle is 21 and is presently reading some 2-4 books a week in order to keep his mind sharp.

I am not against unions, as I have stated previously. I am against the unrighteous dominion that permeates them at times.

An AP story this morning indicates that unions here in New York are seeking a bigger role in charter schools. My question is: Do they seek to improve working conditions of teachers in those schools or are they merely looking for exhorbitant and arbitrary union dues?

Read the story and judge for yourself:

A story about gay allies

I share the following poignant and timely story from an associate and gay rights champion, Carol Lynn Pearson. You can visit her online at:

"TALK! SING! LOVE! A number of weeks ago I received a phone message from a very faithful LDS woman I had attended church with for years, Diana Jones. (Diana gave me permission to tell this story using her name.) "Hi, Carol Lynn. I wonder if you'd let me come over and visit with you. I'd like for us to talk." My heart sank. Oh, no, I thought, Diana wants to bear her testimony to me that if we just follow what we're told on issues of homosexuality, all will be well; I love Diana and I don't want to have that conversation with her.

I didn't return the phone call for several days. Then I thought, This is rude--I've got to call her back. So I did. "Hi, Diana! I hear you want to talk with me. I'll be glad to have a visit, but there are two things I do n't want to talk about. One is the church and the other is proposition 8. I'm guessing that takes away your reason for wanting to talk to me."

"Well--maybe," she said hesitantly, "but let me just tell you what I've been thinking. As you know, I sing in this semi-professional chorale for women, and I've learned that a number of the women are lesbians. I've gotten to know several of them and I just love them so much! I saw the pain they experienced last fall around prop eight and everything, and I thought--this is not okay--there has to be a better way. Last weekend we had a retreat for the chorus and two of my lesbian friends and I sat up in our pajamas half the night just talking, talking, talking. I told them about you and your work and asked if they'd be interested in meeting you. They said, yes, they would love to meet you. So--that's why I was calling, Carol Lynn, to see if you might be willing to spend an evening with me and my lesbian friends and just talk."

"Diana!" I laughed. "I would be thrilled to talk with you and your lesbian friends!" And so a couple of weeks later, five of us met at Diana's. We ate her good chicken soup and talked and talked and talked. Allie, who last summer married her partner and with her is raising two little boys, said, "It's amazing--the most conservative thing the gay community has ever done is the thing that has caused the most outrage--our wanting to marry." There were tears, there was laughter, there was love. All of us left thrilled at our conversation and determined to meet again, which we have done.

A couple of nights ago I went with Diana to hear their chorale perform in the chapel on the campus of nearby St. Mary's College. Stunningly gorgeous pieces sung by straight women and gay women, their beautiful voices blending into one.

Behind the singers in their soft green blouses and black skirts was some marble statuary: Jesus on the cross, and above that--a resurrected Christ with his arms out. I loved looking at the two art pieces as I listened to the women sing. A Course in Miracles tells me, "Each day, each hour and minute, even every second, you are deciding between the crucifixion and the resurrection."

Our human family has had such a struggle deciding to give one another life instead of death. We have made progress, become more sensitive on many issues. At this moment in history, the question of how we respond to our gay brothers and sisters is before us. Do we wish for them crucifixion or resurrection? Are we prepared in our hearts to give them life or to give them death?

The massive human chorus of which God is the director needs, I believe, all of our voices."

You can also read, "Goodbye, I love you" by Carol Lynn Pearson - the deeply moving story of her saying goodbye to her former husband, as she took him into her home after the divorce and nurses him in preparation for his death from AIDS.

Carol is a phenomenal woman and one whom I was blessed to meet during my stay in Utah.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Tough choices for a mum in New York

We have made amazing strides with reproductive rights for women in the United States.

In New York State, if a woman leaves a baby at a police station or a hospital within 5 days of giving birth, she will not face criminal charges.

Last evening, a desperate new mother left her newborn baby in an apartment building in Hempstead New York. I cannot begin to comprehend what she must have been feeling, leaving her precious baby behind for strangers to take care of.

I am not going to second guess this poor woman - she is going to spend her life beating herself up over this one.

It is sad that she felt she had no other choice but this, and even sadder that she will now be hunted and face charges for her "crime" - maybe she has had a bad experience with authority figures, maybe even been arrested - we all know that police stations and hospitals are equipped with security cameras.

I pray for her and her wellbeing - I hope that she can dodge this bullet - she has suffered enough.

Albany shenanigans part 2

It is unfortunate that the Governor of New York does not have executive powers that would affectively address the coup that recently took place in the Senate of New York.

That said, he is fully cognizant of the fact that there are some 42 bills left unattended during this debacle. He has grown weary, as have many of us. Today, he is compelling the Senate into an emergency session and will do so every day, including holidays and weekends until they address these bills.

As a former political appointee, confessed political junkie and now a political consultant, I have watched these events unfold and have been inwardly hoping that the Governor would find a way to compell these slothful servants - well, he has now found the way and woe betide anyone who crosses him now.

Thanks Governor Paterson.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama: "We need fathers to step up."

I met an amazing couple on the bus home from the museum - the express bus lends itself more to conversations and getting to know people in a way that other commuting busses don't.

The father gently cradled his 18 month old as she sipped on her bottle. They were heading to Grandma's house. She eyed her father adoringly as he held her in his tender arms. The scene was beautiful and reminded me of happier days with my former husband - before the animosity of the divorce drove a wedge between us that remains unbridged even 10 years later. We struggle greatly to remain civil - differences in parenting styles frequently being a cause for contention.

This beautiful couple defied the odds - both products of divorced parents, highly successful - she an attorney and while I did not ask him of his profession, could tell he was educated, articulate and clearly had something about him that attracted his amazing wife - you can tell a lot about a couple by spending even 30 minutes with them on a bus ride. We exchanged cards and I hope to keep in touch with them.

I am sure they will read the letter to fathers as printed in Parade Magazine today. President Obama is always giving us something to reach for, and while my regular readers will know of my disappoinment with him over gay rights issues of late, I think he has hit this one out of the proverbial ballpark. Here is a link to the story - comments appreciated:


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hate crimes on the rise

An interesting and thought-provoking op-ed piece appeared in the Times this morning. Here is an excerpt: "The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported a resurgence of right-wing hate groups in the U.S. since Mr. Obama was elected president. Gun craziness of all kinds, including the passage of local laws making it easier to own and conceal weapons, is on the rise. Hate-filled Web sites are calling attention to the fact that the U.S. has a black president and that his chief of staff is Jewish."

I reported on this disturbing trend earlier this week - this story gave me yet another moment to pause and reflect on how far we have come and that too many have yet to embrace the change taking place in the country - sweeping change, I might add. I have no time for racists, bigots and anti-semites. I love all of God's children - she created them in her own right and with her own vision. There was room in creation for all ethnicities, races, religions and creeds.

President Obama will likely be the greatest President we will ever know. This is a wonderful thing - he is proud of his ethnic and racial heritage and should not have to excuse that. These haters would likely not have wanted Hillary Clinton to be the first female President either.

We need to pray and send positive thoughts towards the Administration, doing our part in our communitiesto see that justice is upheld and that hate has no room to thrive.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Obama making responsible dads a national priority

President Obama grew up without a father in his life, seeing his father just once after his parents separated at the tender age of 2.

He is now one of the most amazing stories of defeating the odds - Ivy League graduate, attorney and has attained the highest honor in the nation - President of the United States -some might even say - leader of the free world.

As I read his memoir - "Dreams of my Father" I wept and was touched by how much he has been affected by an absent father. I wept for my own father, who left the family home when I was in my early teens - we hardly saw him, except for the occasional weekend visit when he would come to the home, trying to reconcile with my mother.

I remember it as if it were yesterday. I had just returned from a scholarship summer abroad in Germany and was making my way on the bus back to the family home at 76 Tivoli Road in Southeast London. It was a beautiful home, a tree-lined street and neighbors who watched out for each other. I saw my dad pass by on a bus that he did not normally take - he spied me and disembarked, explaining that he had left the family home for good - in other words, he did not plan to return ever. I cried in the middle of the street as he told me the news - they had not wanted to ruin my summer abroad, and had therefore spared me that revelation. Years later, I wish I had known - my sisters had been there for the exodus - it was pretty violent - furniture smashed to smithereens and even the TV screen had been destroyed so that we would not have that form of entertainment - I shall spare you any more details as even now, decades later, it is too painful to go there.

Suffice to say, I was estranged from my father for years thereafter, seeing him once when he came to visit me and my former military husband with a new baby in Germany. I remember getting the call that he was coming. It was a pleasant visit, but the bond between us was irrevocably severed.

I have since reunited with my father, and have often wanted to ask him what was going through his mind as he smashed the beautiful glass and mirrored wall-to-wall closet and shelves and dressing table that he had lovingly created for my mother - he is, after all, a gifted carpenter.

Some things are truly better left unsaid.

I love my father, flaws and imperfections notwithstanding and hope to visit with him and meet his lovely wife in the near future.

Wounds heal with time, but the memories never fade.

I am a strong woman in my own right - a gifted writer and owner of my own consulting firm - not too bad for a girl who grew up sans father in my formative years.

I urge fathers everywhere, particularly black fathers, to heed the words of the President and make time for their children - you might be divorced, never married, or even separated from the mother of your children, but that is no reason for absenting yourself from your children.

Happy Fathers' Day!

The prayer of the righteous in Iran

The "election" is about a week old in Iran and the government crackdown on its citizens, including trying to get them not to use Internet and other services, such as Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites is not working - hah!

I believe in the people of Iran - they have spoken and deserve to see their rightfully elected leader seated. I am sad for the 20 or so deaths that have taken place, as well as the students who have been detained.

This is big, folks - they are trying to quash the will of the people. It is backfiring - Irani citizens and naturalized Irani-Americans are taking to the streets in NYC and DC - they will not go quietly - nor should they. They are determined to see this through to the bitter end.

Governments should represent the people in a democracy - while Iran is in its infancy, a sweeping tide is taking place in that country.

Let us all pray with the people of Iran that their voices are heard and their votes are counted - remember Florida.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Obama to OK benefits for same-sex partners of federal workers

Just recently, I wrote of my disappointment with President Obama over DOMA and other GLBT issues. He has thankfully remembered his promises to GLBT persons over the course of his campaign - even calling himself "a fierce advocate for gay and lesbian Americans."

He is now going to do what Rocky Anderson (former mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah) did - one of my proudest days in his office - sign legislation to extend domestic partner benefits to same sex couples for the city - in Obama's case, for federal workers. This is so encouraging on many levels.

Allies of the GLBT community have long been frustrated with the government's lack of vision concerning our issues. Hate crimes legislation in the name of Matthew Shephard has stalled and DOMA is an accepted fact.

We need to continue to work with our elected officials to ensure that all Americans are treated equally and have access to medical coverage and other benefits that straight people take for granted.

Today the federal government - tomorrow - equality for everyone!

Peace Corps to get a 9% budget increase

Some of the finest people I know have served in the Peace Corps, Jacob, Lex and Ed. Suzanne is headed out this year and Christy is presently serving. They are preschool teachers, special ed teachers, managers, city planners and executive directors of neighborhood organizations respectively. They are phenomenal in their own right and I had the privilege of working with all of them whilst living in Utah.

Last evening, on Hardball MSNBC, I was happy to see an interview with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins of New York - my senator. She is proposing a 9% increase in funding of this amazing program. It behooves our nation to be more service minded - this will also alleviate anxiety for those who have recently graduated college and have not firm job prospects lined up.

Serving in the Peace Corps is an honor, a calling, even destiny. Senator Cousins is a forward thinking and amazing politician - How is it that I always seem to get the best representation lately?

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

AG Holder urges new hate crimes law

I lived in Utah as a minority for over 7 years - I was the target of discrimination and racial profiling in spite of serving as an aide to the mayor of Salt Lake City. My sons experienced it frequently and one was even beaten up by someone who called him the "n" word.

Since the election of the nation's first black President, hate crimes against blacks and other minorities are on the rise. Utah and Arizona were among the last states in the nation to pass hate crimes laws. Indeed, the original Utah hate crimes bill championed by Latino Pete Suazo, who died in a tragic ATV accident shortly after I went to work at the Mayor's office and was ultimately brought to fruition by the amazing Legislator, David Litvack is a sadly watered-down version of what the bill needed to be.

Critics of hate crimes legislation contend that there are already laws on the books that are strong enough, but simply need to be enforced. Recent killings would indicate that the punishments for such heinous crimes are simply no deterrent to hatemongers.

Here are some frightening statistics released by a new study as reported by the AP moments ago:
_African-Americans remain by far the most frequent victims of hate crimes. Of the 7,624 hate crime incidents reported nationwide in 2007, the most recent year available, 34 percent were perpetrated against African-Americans.
_In the five years from 2003-2007, the number of hate crimes reported against Hispanics increased nearly 40 percent, from 426 in 2003 to 595 in 2007. Of all hate crimes reported in the United States in 2007, 7.8 percent were committed against Hispanics.
_In 2007, there were 969 reported hate crimes committed against Jews, constituting 12.7 percent of all hate crimes reported and 69 percent of religious bias hate crimes reported.
_Following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 2001, the number of hate crimes directed against Arab-Americans, Muslims and Sikhs escalated dramatically. In 2001, those groups were victimized in nearly 5 percent of the total number of hate crimes reported that year, 481 out of 9,730. While the number of reported hate crimes against the groups declined from the peak of 2001, it remains substantially above pre-2001 levels.
_Reported hate crimes committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation increased in 2007 to 1,265, the highest level in five years. Of all hate crimes reported in 2007, the proportion committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals rose to 16.6 percent, also the highest level in five years.

Would someone please remind me again why it is that we are debating about whether we need enhanced hate crimes?

A Bad Call on Gay Rights

I knew that eventually there would be issues coming out of the Obama Administration with which I would not agree - frankly, I had not expected that it would be this soon, nor on this subject. Certainly not given what he stated about being a supporter of gay rights on is campaign trail.

In the 1967 Supreme Court case of Loving vs. Virginia, the Court ruled that a mixed (black and white) couple could indeed be married. It is of interest to note that President Obama, with his mixed heritage does not grasp the connection between this aggregious wrong and the fact that his parents would not have been allowed to be married-hell, he might not even have been born.

I am tired of these lame arguments that judges use to defend DOMA - Don't Ask, Don't Tell. I am tired of my gay brothers and sisters who do not have the opportunity to marry- and now, even in those states where they are allowed to marry legally, those unions are not recognized in other states, nor do they have to be, according to the Administration - not in NY, thanks to the wisdom and foresight of Governor David Paterson.

Please take time to read this poignantly written editorial piece from the NY Times today - and then write to the President:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Upheaval in Tehran

I had truly hoped and even prayed for a change to come to the Iranian people. They have been ready to be freed from the tyranny of their ruthless leader for a long time. The outcome in this election is eerily reminiscent of GW Bush's stealing the election in Florida in recent years. The parallels of our recent election, with heavy use of texting and other electronic means is interesting.

Thousands of Iranians and their supporters took to the streets of Manhattan yesterday to protest- I would have been among them had I known it was taking place. Sometimes I feel that there are just too many causes and too little time.

I pray that the people of Iran will prevail and that the will of the people will be upheld. I have no solution for same, but truly believe in the power of the people.

There are enough expatriots from Iran/Persia in the US to put pressure on the UN and their politial leaders to get this done.

I wish them all God speed.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Key health care senators have industry ties

This heading should come as no surprise to those of us who have been advocating healthcare reform for years.

I have been sans health insurance for over a year now due to switching jobs and not having the benefit afforded me in my new job. Had Obama been President, I would have been able to afford the COBRA premiums, but that was not the case.

The list of recipients from moderate (Orrin Hatch) to exhorbitant (Senator Chris Dodd's wife) deals handed down from pharmaceutical and healthcare conglomorates is of note.

I suggest you review the list and if you recognize any of the names, send the appropriate communique.

If we are truly to have comprehensive healthcare reform, those with an agenda and/financial interest in same should have no place at the bargaining table.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

GLBT town hall meeting in Westchester

I attended this event last evening for the first time since relocating to Westchester a year and a half ago.

I was happy to see that I recognized a few familiar faces, particularly those whom I had met at Equality and Fairness Day in Albany - a day set aside for GLBT and Allies to lobby.

The evening was amazing - Andrew Spano, the County Executive was there - he spoke of the work of creating the office of GLBT affairs and indicated that he had received no calls or static for doing so. He seems to be a decent man, his large budget notwithstanding.

There were tears and frustration at the open mike as people discussed being able to have domestic partner benefits - what would happen now that the Democrats no longer have a majority in the Senate - would gay marriage ultimately prevail in NY?

I think that the time is coming for NY to recognize this is a civil rights issue, as Governor Paterson so eloquently stated on that day in Albany a few weeks ago - it was at one time appropriate to discriminate against blacks and women and now it is gays - time to stop already!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My missing son

I have four sons - most of you know Ryan, Kyle and Tye - only a select few of you have met Bryce, the youngest.

In 2001, I moved from Michigan to Utah in search of a wonderful new job that would afford me the opportunity to leave welfare and subsidized daycare behind.

I discussed the move at length with my former husband and we agreed that he would follow in 6 months once he had completed a management training program in a retail store where he was working at the time. We also decided - if memory serves, he suggested - that Bryce should stay with his father since I had no daycare lined up yet. It seemed simple enough. I completed the necessary paperwork to apprise the court accordingly and gave it to Dan - it never made it.

Some months later, there was a hearing - it took place in the middle of the day and over the phone, as I was resident in Utah and Dan was in Michigan. I sat in my white Lincoln Continental with my business suit on - inbetween meetings with my job as a political appointee to the mayor of Salt Lake City. It did not occur to me that I would lose. Lose I did.

I have been trying for a week to get his dad to answer the phone so we can set up a week of parenting time in August of this year.

I lost patience and am now doing something I NEVER wanted to do. I am going through the courts to see my son. Parents should not have to be compelled to do the right thing - when they have children, it should come naturally, particularly in the case of Dan, whose newly-created Facebook indicates:
Dan Daley
There is phrase "if you don't know where you are going" any path will take you there. I am very pleased and appreciate all of my friends who have been with me through the good times and bad times. My children mean the world to me, having 4 sons have been the best investment I can imagine and raising Bryce have been the most joy in my life. I appreciate all my church friends who never took sides, you are the best,on Monday.

Well, so much for not taking sides and loving his children - he conveniently forgot to mention that he has done NOTHING to maintain parenting time with me and Bryce, and the others at times, over the years.

The battle lines have been drawn - and not by me!

I still remember how I felt that day in court all those years ago - essentially, they told me I had given up custody by moving out of the state and not filing papers with the court. I remembered my heart being smashed into pieces and not being able to breathe - I put on my brave face and went about my job and no-one ever knew what had happened. I can't believe that I am having to relive this nightmare again.

Ovarian Cancer: Fighting for a Cure

Ovarian Cancer: Fighting for a Cure

A Message From President Obama "My mother died of ovarian cancer at the age of 53, and in those last painful months she was more worried about paying medical bills than getting well. For millions of Americans, my mother's story is all too familiar. That is why we need health-care reform that guarantees affordable coverage for every American who wants it and prevents insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

Earlier this year, I announced an additional $6 billion investment for cancer research as part of a long-term strategy to combat the disease, and the recovery package includes a two-year infusion of $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which funds cancer research. We know this fight will not be easy, but we have gone far too long without necessary reforms of our health-care system. Now is the time to commit ourselves to waging a war against cancer as aggressive as the war cancer wages against us." -- Barack Obama

This is an excerpt found on AOL in a story that will appear in Harper's soon.

The President is absolutely committed to women's health issues and we are lucky to have him and his foresight.

Kennedy health plan includes long term health care

Senator Edward Kennedy is loved and derided at the same time. He is truly one who people love to hate. I happen to not be a fan of his personal follies, but that does not impact his abilities to adequately represent his state as a Senator.

His recent coup with finding a solution to the healthcare crisis (600 pages long) is the piece de la resistance - indeed, it might even just be the coup de grace in a long and distinguished career in the Senate. He is, after all, too sick to preside over the meetings that are on tap in order to consider his proposal.

He has cleverly and with great forethought, managed to include long term health care in the provision - in other words - since he has been diagnosed with cancer, he is more aware of the limitations placed on individuals with disabilities vis-a-vis healthcare and freedom of choice.

I applaud Ted Kennedy for his ambitious efforts to bring some semblance of normalcy to this country's ridiculously beaureaucratic and even cumbersome health insurance.

Here is the link to the story as posted on the AP only moments ago:

Don't ask, don't tell - Op-Ed: A Gay Soldier's Husband

There are some 65,000 gay and lesbian soldiers serving presently. Their lives are no different than those of straight people, except: They cannot marry, they cannot have domestic partner benefits, they cannot come out and live openly gay, or they risk being expelled from the service and the deepest cut of all - they can't be the one to hear the news of whether a loved one serving overseas has not made it.

I just watched this video clip on the NY Times and was moved to tears. Why can't we repeal "Don't ask, don't tell." We had Brown vs. Board of Education and desegregated schools, we gave women the right to vote, we had Loving vs. Virginia and had the supreme court outlaw mysogeny (interracial marriage), so why can't we outlaw discrimination against gays?

I was having this conversation with a family member recently who is opposed to gay marriage - many years ago, a gay friend quoted me something she had seen on a t-shirt which basically stated that gays won't marry straights if they are allowed to marry each other.

For 15 years, I was in a marriage where I was unfulfilled, miserable and desperately lonely. The only things my former husband and I had in common were our deep and abiding faith in the Mormon Church and our four remarkable boys.

The pain and anguish that I felt when he finally came out still cause me to tear up on occasion to this day - I remember telling him - I didn't care that he was gay, but I did care that he lied to me - he was supposed to be my best friend. Those feelings hold true today - we are friends - no longer as close as we were, there has been way too much pain and betrayal, but we maintain a friendship for the sake of our children.

Unless people have been on my side of the equation, they should stop speaking out against gay marriage.

The couple who were so beautifully portrayed in this video are a regular couple (the individual in the military is in Iraq and was not able to be videotaped) - they live in a beautiful home, but when they write letters to ea ch other, they have to censor them and be so careful about whawt they write, lest someone should find out their secret.

It is time to repeal Don't ask, don't tell - it is not working, it is unamerican and unconstitutional.