Monday, June 28, 2010

A serene and serendipitous Sunday at St. Andrews

After 23 years of living a very different spiritual and religious life as a Latter Day Saint - Mormon - I made a recommitment to the religion of my childhood and returned to the Episcopal Church two years ago. The decision to leave the Mormon faith did not come lightly - indeed it came at a great personal and spiritual cost to me as my regular readers know. Suffice it to say, as a woman of color and great equality and social justice conviction, I could not bear to see the LDS Church treat gays as though they were second class citizens, in much the same way they had treated my people prior to the ACLU threatening to bring a massive lawsuit against the church in the late 1970's unless they extended a hand of fellowship to all people, including blacks.

If I had my druthers, I would often rather spend Sunday mornings in bed with a significant other, reading the Times and eating a leisurely breakfast. For my own good and spiritual wellbeing, I attend worship services whenever possible. My home of late is St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Hartsdale, New York - I love Father Joe Campo - the former Catholic priest who left the priesthood and ultimately the Catholic church and subsequently married what I believe is the love of his life - Mother JoAnne Campo.

Yesterday was a particularly wonderful Sunday and I wanted to share a couple of experiences with my readers: Devereaux is a God-fearing man - he serves as a treasurer and keeps the meagre finances of the church in order. It was his duty and blessing, yesterday, to present a small scholarship to one of our graduating seniors who desires to become an architect. He began to tell a story which I could really relate to - one day, his alarm clock sounded and he struggled to get out of bed - he was exhausted and depressed and did not know how he would make it through the day - try as he might, he could not get up. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw his son, Andrew who was up for the day and getting ready for school. He was singing the R. Kelly song, "I believe I can fly". That was just the push Devereaux needed - he got up and went about his day renewed from hearing his young son's innocent admonitions - unbeknownst to the on - he had inspired his father. Devereaux then sang the song, with the congregation joining in, many in tears, myself included and exhorted the young graduate to listen to that song as she becomes discourages through the course of her college career.

I needed to hear that story for myself - I had such a difficult week - struggling to maintain my equilibrium with my bi-polar and to complete a large amount of work for the final portion of my religion class at Concordia - I wondered why I was incurring such debt at my age, working so very hard and given the challenges of bi-polar disorder and how that affects my mood and learning capabilities - I struggled to comprehend whether I had truly made the correct decision.
After listening to Devereaux speak, i knew that God had indeed spoken to me and led me to Concordia College, a small private Lutheran college, where I could learn in small groups and learn more about him and his teachings.

After the service, I was once more blessed to meet new friends from Riverdale, Caroline and her partner, a former CUNY English professor - a gay couple at St. Andrews! They have been together some 20 years and are clearly deeply in love. I joked with them that if only gays could marry (in New York it is still not allowed but we are hopeful it will pass the legislature next year - third time is, after all a charm) - they wouldn't marry straight. I shared that I wish I had had Eunice as a professor and she indicated that she has mellowed with age and I probably wouldn't have liked her when she was teaching - she was evidently hard on her students in those days and admitted as much. Eunice is now reviewing off-Broadway plays and loves it! In fact, I was at Trader Joe's and saw a tee shirt advertising the Public theatre that came highly recommended by Eunice.

I love Sundays - it makes for a great start to the week! Thanks to Father Joe, Devereaux and most of all to my new friends, Caroline and Eunice.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Meg Whitman and Nikki Haley - how remarkable women lead

I have been watching with great interest the Republican primaries in California and South Carolina. While I am a lifelong adult supporter of the Democrat party, since the days when I lived in England and watched my mother practically in tears when Jimmy Carter lost his re-election bid, I have identified with the party's beliefs and strategies to help average Americans live better lives.

I believe that we are going to experience a tremendous sea change this fall, as I indicated on the radio show that I recently began co-hosting, Shared Sacrifice, where this blog is linked. It will not necessarily matter what party affiliation one has, if one is an incumbent, one is going to have a difficult time getting re-elected in this present environment.

While we do not yet know who Meg Whitman will face, it will likely be Arnold Schwarzenegger - Ms. Whitman has shown grace, intelligence and incredible fortitude, while spending millions of dollars of her own fortune that she amassed whilst working as the former CEO of eBay. My California sources indicate that Ms. Whitman has not voted for over 20 years - I am sure she has her reasons for same - not that I am excusing such un-American behavior. I still applaud her for what she has managed to pull off.

Ms. Haley has already been the subject of racist jokes from one of her own Republican party - she has been called a rag head - a most derogatory term for individuals from India and other nations who wear head coverings. She is going to be the first female to run for Governor of South Carolina - add to that, the fact that she is a woman of color and we all have great cause to rejoice.

They have not let their sex stand in the way of shattering the glass ceiling.

Last evening, I posted on my Facebook page that I was having President's remorse - I believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton might have been, in retrospect, the best candidate for the job. Given the vast and sweeping challenges that are facing our nation, Obama came to the job ill-prepared for the public outrage at a black man being our Commander in Chief - his record of public service, long though it was, makes him a neophyte when compared side-by-side with that of Mrs. Clinton.

Remarkable women are truly leading the way and thankfully making our country a better place for men, women and children. I have been watching reports from a group which coined the phrase: "How remarkable women lead" - they spotlight women throughout the world who are creating change where men have failed to do so.

I for one welcome the changes that are coming to politics - thanks Hillary. I love Girl Power!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crisis in the Gulf - the President steps in

On a remarkable and progressive Internet radio show (Shared Sacrifice) which I just started co-hosting on Saturday, after our two guests had left the air, Matt, the co-host and producer and I were talking about stories in the news. I spoke of my frustration over the BP oil spill and felt that the fox was guarding the proverbial hen house vis-a-vis the claims processing that is taking place for victims seeking restitution. I shared my thought that an independent entity should be tasked with ensuring that these claims are processed in a timely fashion and that field workers be sent to find those who might not be aware of their right to file claim for lost wages, damage to properties and so forth.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the administration shares my sentiments. They are insisting that BP get an independent oversight group to oversee the claims being processed - this is a good start - I believe that BP should go further - instead of this media blitz of misinformation and dishonesty, they should take those advertising dollars and set up a fund for those who have become displaced as a result of their not taking adequate safety measures to ensure the safety and security of the livelihoods of fishermen and other coastal employees. Some tea party folks have said it is not for the president, rather for the judicial branch of government to see that this cleanup takes place - well, apparently the judicial branch was not pulling its weight in this instance - perhaps they are too busy running for office and taking lunches with lobbyists for their numerous and sundry causes.

Does this seem harsh? Perhaps it does, but BP has proven that they feel above the law when it comes to corporate responsibility and we must compel them to do the right thing.

When I first came to the New York area, I was fortunate to get a temporary gig with another large international company - ITT Corporation - they took corporate governance and responsibility very seriously - so much so that it was in most of their literature, for visitors, shareholders and employees alike to see. I recall being so impressed with same that I even sent an email to the CEO expressing my admiration and this comes from someone who is not easily impressed, particularly with large corporations making billions of dollars - this company had an amazing sense of responsibility and continues to impress me with their outreach efforts into the various communities where they live and work.

BP would do well to get off their high horse and stop with the corporate whining and fix this mess and do the right thing for the Gulf coast residents. They need to share the sacrifice.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ebony and Ivory - hot, hot, hot New York men

I had a great treat today.

I was taking a break from my consulting job and was engaging in enjoying a relaxing cigarette - yes, I know it is a disgusting habit, but I indulge in a cancer stick or two during stressful times - it calms me down, what can I say?

I noticed a handsome and I mean handsome enough to be on the cover of Details magazine - man by the name of William. We struck up a conversation. His striking green eyes smiled as we talked. I asked if I might introduce him to a coworker - a beautiful Russian woman and he indicated that he is happy in a relationship with a beautiful Polish woman. I had to ask William his parentage as he had very unusually attractive and striking looks - he is 1/2 Korean and 1/2 Irish and one of the most beautiful men I have ever seen. He works in sales and we sruck up a conversation about the optical store where I consult part time. I encouraged him to come inside and check out our specials - he is going to get some new contacts and glasses - maybe I am in the wrong career.

I digress - standing immediately behind William was an African American man who looked like he had stepped off the cover of Ebony magazine, were that magazine to feature blue-collar workers. I told him as much and he flashed an amazingly gorgeous smile. I think he was happy to have run into me today. I don't think men get complimented nearly as often as they should be.

To my left is my new "friend" - the man from Mauritania who sells perfume and eyeglasses from a table on the street. He is happily married with 3 girls and a boy and a very, very lucky wife. We are going to speak French together daily so I can practice - quelle chance! (what luck!)

Down the block a ways is another African man who sells me purses, headphones for my iPhone (which I lose on a regular basis) and treats me with African lotions and soaps in exchange for my purchases.

This exchange all took place in a space of a few minutes and I remembered why I love New York so much as a single woman - HOT MEN!

Enough said.

Come out and check them out yourself - some of the hottest men on the planet are right here in New York City.

Now, please excuse me while I fan the beads of sweat from my face.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Estranged and fractured families - the toll of alcoholism

My oldest son is visiting with his grandfather for a few days. The two have not seen each other in some 13 years or so. Why the estrangement? Quite simply stated, my father is an alcoholic and hence has estranged relationships with most of his children and some of his grandchildren.

My son and I have a lengthy conversation last evening where we spoke candidly of my father's imperfections, his growing older and mellower with age - all good things. My father and mother divorced many years ago and my father has since remarried and is very happy with his sweet wife. I was fortunate to meet her and spend time with the two of them last year. It was for all intents and purposes a reunion of sorts and should have been a lovely trip.

Unfortunately, I had not planned on my father drinking a little too much one night and becoming teary and nostalgic, asking the same questions he has asked aloud for years - namely, he wonders why no-one in the family speaks to him.

It is simple - we have all suffered beatings at his hands, one of my sisters was even taken out of the home in adolescence after having been molested repeatedly by my father. It was a tempestuous time and we, that is, the remaining 4 sisters, were mortified when we realized that we would no longer be living with our beloved sister - instead, we were relegated to weekend visitation at Cumberlowe Lodge - a girls' home. Years later, we realized that she had been molested (we did not know this at the time) and for the most part, severed ties with our father.

I have a fair relationship with my father, mostly due to having learned the miracle of forgiveness and having spent many years in therapy. It has been a very long road - no, it is not a done deal, but we are certainly making headway.

I thank God for my oldest son, his vision, wisdom and insight that help me to keep my eyes on the prize and stay focused on what is important in life - thanks Ry - you are an amazing young man.

Parental alienation - the toll on children

I just saw a report on the CBS early morning news. A therapist who was interviewed indicated that it will take years for children to recover from same - years, even their whole lives.

My regular readers are well aware of the loss I suffered of my youngest son in custody battle with my former husband. 12 years later, parental alienation is the order of the day with my former spouse. Missed holidays, birthdays, other special occasions - all gone - simply because his father, 15 years after our divorce - refuses to have a relationship with me. Indeed, our last email exchange was filled with venom, and ended with his telling me he was essentially counting the years until my youngest son is 18 and we won't have to speak any more.

This exchange came simply because I asked to have the opportunity to claim my son on my taxes every other years - not an unusual request and one that I could enforce through the courts were I so inclined, but I continue to take the moral high ground, knowing that at some point my son will figure it out and begin to question me regarding my absence from his life.

It is a sad story and one that is told far too often. It is unfortunate that so many children continue to be casualties of divorce. There will be hours spent in therapy and untold thousands of dollars in copays for these poor children.

Let's try to make it stop already!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The case for sanctions against Israel

Israel is one of America's staunchest allies. Her long history of suffering has made us empathetic, almost to the point of continually turning the other cheek even when she is clearly making poor choices.

Last week's massacre at sea with the Turkish flotilla should give us all cause to pause. It was uncalled for and is at minimum questionable. This was a ship bringing supplies for heaven's sake, not a war ship. How can we know that the accounts we are reading as reported by the perpetrators of this horrendous crime are even true? Are we to believe that the Turkish people aboard that ship really opened fire on Israeli soldiers, knowing of their fire power and military prowess? It certainly does not add up to me.

Israel is now conducting an investigation into the massacre - what is needed is an independent, UN sanctioned inquiry - or at least an International one. The Israelis have stated that they don't want an International inquiry lest it be biased, but otherwise, how shall we get to the bottom of what really transpired?

Additionally, until such time as the truth can be ascertained as to exactly what happened and when, we, as the US should take a stance and bring sanctions against Israel so that they understand unequivocally that such behavior is not to be tolerated.

We have been wondering what to do about the North/South Korea conflict and their submarine incident - if we can address that, then surely we should follow suit in this case.

One person's opinion.

Helen Thomas' improptu resignation from the media

I have long admired Helen Thomas and her ability to ask the tough questions as White House press conferences. One could always count on her intelligent and thought provoking questions while other younger and less bold reporters would ask simple and not so pointed questions during the regular conferences held in the Oval Office.

Not so, this past week. Ms. Thomas showed that she is, in fact, nothing more than a bigot. We have all certainly had opinions regarding the horrendous massacre at sea by the Israeli army recently and some sanctions should be surely forthcoming. This behavior is not to be tolerated from any army, and in this case, where it is being reported that many of the crew members of the ship were shot in the head, almost execution style, one has cause to pause.

Ms. Thomas let forth a tirade indicating that Jews should "go back" to Germany, Poland or other parts of the world. How sad an unfortunate that she chose such incendiary and inflammatory language when she is clearly a master of words.

I wish she had not resigned - on the contrary, she should have been fired on the spot - I am sure that behind the scenes, she was told to resign or else, but I really don't understand why her dignity was spared, particularly when she is clearly, as previously stated, nothing more than a bigot.

It is all to easy to let forth a tirade of racist slurs - those Jews, blacks, gays, fill in the blank with whichever group one happens to deem lesser than, and you get the picture.

Yes, she will be missed, but I am glad that we were able to see her true colors shining under the glare of the media spotlight - scrutinized for what they were.

Good riddance to bad rubbish and to my Jewish friends and associates - Shalom and may there be peace in Israel one day.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Co-Op City sanitation workers on strike

It is absolutely incredulous to me that in the midst of this, the worst financial crisis and economic downturn we have seen in decades, a group of employees at Co-Op City has the nerve to be on strike.

I recall President Reagan and his dismissal of hundreds of air traffic controllers years ago - they, too went on strike, thinking that they were invincible and that their jobs would always be there - he did not allow himself to be blackmailed and fired the lot of them.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg took matters in his own hands last week and shocked unions all over the state when he said that there would be no pay raises forthcoming to NYC teachers, thereby sparing some 4,000 jobs of other teachers in the district.

I hope that he will step into the fray of the Co-Op city strike and fire them - there are many people who would gladly take union jobs with union wages and making significantly more monies than minimum wage, particularly given that many of the Co-Op City workers come from housing projects. This is a time for sacrifice - we all need to do our part - shared sacrifice is what we need at this time, not selfishness.

Should this be the last generation?

I just read this eye-opening and provocative piece in the NY Times Opinionator.

The piece asks about choices to bring children into the world, not reducing our carbon footprint and having them live in a world sans enough resources to adequately address their needs.

Years ago - almost 15, to be exact, I found myself pregnant with my 4th child unexpectedly. My family was complete, my marriage in shambles and my husband at the time had just come out of the closet. I wrestled long and hard with the decision over whether to terminate the pregnancy, knowing that this child would not have the traditional family in which my other three sons had been blessed to live in. I knew that this child would be raised by a single parent. What I could not anticipate was that I would ultimately lose custody of that child after taking a job out of state - long story - another post.

While I love my 4 children unconditionally and equally, I feel empathy for the youngest son - my 12 year old son at the time, who was the eldest, said - "this baby is going to be so lucky - they will never know what it was like to live in a home with two parents".

This is not a question of reducing a carbon footprint, but the deficit and loss that this youngest child has suffered is heartbreaking to me - yes, he is growing into a fine young man, but I know that he will likely suffer in his relationships and will have to seek therapy down the road as he grapples with being essentially raised as an only chid, sans two loving parents and the security and comfort that would have provided.

Sure, he has food to eat and clothing, but he is missing the basics - he is blessed beyond measure, but I often wonder if I had taken the step to terminate the pregnancy what might have been - some food for thought.

Interestingly enough, I was tasked to write a paper on abortion in college some years ago before this last pregnancy. At the time, I was pro life and still am - after doing all the research and seeing the eye-opening statistics - I realized that in many cases, it is kinder to terminate a pregnancy rather than bring a child into the world with a single parent or without the love and financial support of a family.

I am now both pro life and pro choice - women need choices and as we continue to overpopulate the earth, perhaps it is time to take a long hard look at ourselves and our choices before we bring more - or any - children into the world.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Detroit TIgers game - the perfect pitch that wasn't


So my regular readers know that I love most sports, am crazy about NCAA basketball and then there is the exception of baseball. Two of my children played, but not having grown up in the US, I simply don't comprehend the game. I find it tedious, boring and with the exception of watching an occasional glimpse of the hot Derek Jeter from my one time former hometown of Kalamazoo Michigan, I really don't get into the game.

I was so happy to hear the story of the pitcher who took the moral high ground when he received an imperfect call from an umpire - he could have railed and raged and thrown the typical tantrum that we are used to seeing all too often in professional sports, but he chose instead to simply smile and take it in his stride.

What a teaching moment - parents, be sure to let your children be exposed to this moment.

Seton Hall University and a course on gay marriage

In a story reported on the New York CBS early morning news local edition, they spoke of an effort to bring gay marriage to the curriculum at this famous Catholic University.

The Catholic church is well-known for their stance on gay marriage and gays in general, even to the point of having a specific personality test designed for potential priests to weed out those with gay tendencies as reported in the NY Times earlier this week.

It is right and fitting that a university of the caliber of Seton Hall step up and move into the 21st century with their curriculum.

The controversy surrounding this conversation is already heating up with proponents and opponents. The course would be taught by an openly gay faculty member if approved.

I am hoping that they will carefully weigh this important and timely issue.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

No pay hikes for NYC teachers - go Mike Bloomberg!

I was thrilled to see that some 4,000 teachers in NYC will have their jobs spared. Yesterday a late story online in the Times reported that Mayor Bloomberg has decided not to give pay raises across the board - and with union approval to boot - to NYC teachers.

My regular readers know that I was a political appointee for over 5 years whilst living in Utah. My boss, Rocky Anderson who is one of my most-admired politicians - was known for doing the right thing for the right reasons most of the time.

Mayor Bloomberg now gives me reason to applaud - finally - a politician in New York. I have been frustrated with the lack of leadership since Governor Paterson took office after Eliot Spitzer's stepping down. There is no political will to get our finances in order - we continue to spend beyond our means with no end in sight and it will only get worse.

We must all do our share in this economy for the good of our respective states and country - many of us are underemployed, unemployed or working part time in order to make ends meet these days - those in unions should recognize that they are not exempt from making much-needed sacrifices.

Thanks Mayor Bloomberg - I see why you won a third term. I am encouraged by your actions - may those in Albany take note - there are things we can do to win this war on the economy after all.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

David Laws - his resignation and the story behind the story

It appeared to be just one more story about the poor choices of yet another British cabinet official. The stories have been playing out in recent months, mostly over monies spent on second homes which entitles ministers to subsidies and/or reimbursements from the government.

David Laws received some $40,000 to pay to his landlord who also happened to be his gay lover. Unfortunately we will never know how brilliant this man might have been - he seemed to have the world at his feet and could have potentially been an amazing public servant.

Due to the ignorance that permeates our society regarding gay relationships and gays in general, he felt obligated to keep hidden the fact that he has a partner - were the roles reversed and this were a heterosexual couple renting a place together that would likely have been a moot point.

I wonder if anyone in the GLBT community in England is up in arms about this. I would be curious if any of my readers know. I have people from Europe who occasionally check in to my blog - perhaps one of them can enlighten me.

In the meantime, I am glad I live in America where GLBT rights are becoming more and more prevalent - in this day of the repeal of DADT and passing of anti discrimination laws and protections for gays in many states of the nation, I am encouraged.

Farewell David - you will be missed. Don't ever feel that you need to live your life in the shadows.

Al and Tipper - the end of a love story

I was shocked - truly shocked when I read the news of their separation and impending divorce yesterday.

After 40 years of marriage, they are calling it quits. I have long admired this power couple. From Tipper's work to have CD's labeled with explicit lyrics for parental guidance to Al's work on environmental issues. As one who struggles with Bipolar and depression, Tipper's candid opening up about her struggle with depression after the near death of their son was a source of strength to me as I worked through my depressive episodes.

Watching that amazing infamous kiss on the night of the Democratic national convention a few years ago - that is not a love that can be faked. I watched as Al saw the Presidency slip from his fingers due to the shenanigans in Florida thanks to Jeb Bush and his cohorts who were determined to see his brother George Jr. re-elected. I watched as they graciously admitted defeat and worked to rebuild their lives post Washington.

I am sure that they thought long and hard before calling it quits. I hope that they will forge ahead and create new lives separate from each other.

They have asked for privacy for themselves and their family at this difficult time. I hope that we will be as gracious to them as they have been to us, allowing us to see so much of their private lives these past few years.