Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy Bday 2 Me! Happy Bday 2 Me!

WARNING: You may tire reading this birthday account. Perhaps you should sit down. Breathe. Now hold on ....

My friends really came through for me this weekend. Miss "e" worked on making me a pretty girl all Friday afternoon. After she got through with me, I had a new color on my hair, my eyebrows and CURLS!!!!

I went home and slipped into the most cleavage-bearing dress I have ever worn in all my 46 years!!!!

Then Shane and Brit escorted me to a downtown restaurant where about 25 folks showed up to wish me well. Most of them were shocked that I'd gone the girly route. I must admit to varying degrees of amusement watching their reactions!

After good eats and conversation, we walked over to the Alley where we saw a play called The Gospel According to Tammy Fay. She was an icon in the AIDS community and among gay folks since she was so accepting early on when many in the church were more focused on condemnation. We found out Sunday that she died the night we saw the play! Wish I could brag on the play but what I can do is not pick on it so I'll just tell you that several of us (we'd lost a few and gained a few more at the theater) went on to the Chocolate Bar after the first act of one hour and forty minutes was over.

At this point, my wonderful escort Shane also took me to get jeans casual. A woman of my age can go the girly route only so long, you know?

Now back to the evening ... Imagine if you will a place where vanilla doesn't belong, isn't even allowed to enter! Candies, cakes and ice cream all featuring chocolate -- ahhh!

Chatted there a while and lost a few more but gained a few too and soon we were headed for a country and western dance place. Not much dancing going on there however because there weren't that many people either. So we packed us up and tried another locale. FUN TIMES!!!

We actually closed that place down or close to it and Brian was gracious enough to offer his place as our next stop. He's got a pool, hot tub and extra suits. We agreed and ended our "night" around 4 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Saturday was all about getting ready for a more intimate dinner party Roger and Brit were throwing at my place. Since I like to cook I served as her sous chef. Mostly that meant I chopped.

I left the premises at 2 p.m. for errands and to allow my humble apartment to be transformed by Geary, Bob and Roger. When I re-entered, they had created a bistro! Four linen clad tables with linen napkins, centerpieces that stood at least four feet tall with white flowers and a single butterfly in each (because Dian said that was the perfect representation of my new life), candles, and lanterns softened the room. We even had a cocktail bar where my dining table usually sits and my leather sofa made for a warm cozy corner.

Geary was also the culprit behind some yummy mojitos. Brit had worked on some olive stuffed cheese balls and also had out edamame and cheese and nuts.

First course was two salads -- grape tomatoes with mozarella and basil in a balsamic vinegrette alongside one of my concoctions of English cucumbers and red onions with champagne vinegar over avocado.

Next came a cold pasta dish with Asian dressing and shrimp and vegetables.

After that we paused for a bit. The next course was butter chicken with Indian spices and vegetables over basmati rice.

Dian and Cyndi cleared plates each time and kept the kitchen tidy. Brit and I plated. The conversations kept going as we occasionally mixed up the seating.

Dessert was Stan's famous carrot cake with cream cheese icing (he even brought me my own container of that yumminess) and Brit's family recipe for an almost flourless chocolate cake that would just make you cry if you weren't so happy to indulge in it!

Several wanted to return to the country and western place and so some did and this time I got in at least three dances! Woo hoo! and Yee Haw!!

Sunday we restored my apartment to its sanctuary status and I drove out to Tomball to do something I've wanted to do for quite a while -- give my friend Becky the massage she was due back when she helped so much when my international friends were in town. She's down 30 pounds so we celebrated with my longest massage to date and some of the best conversation we've ever had.

AND I had a very, very, very happy, happy, happy birthday weekend!!!!

*We even shared in the festivity by calling my mom on Saturday during the dinner and singing to her for her 77th!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Happy Birthday to ME!!!! (and my twin brother and my mom and ...)

Kelly came out 20 minutes earlier than I did so someone's been around me from pre-emergence into this world. May explain my love of a good party. I have a feeling he and I may have had a little cake in the womb before we decided to say hello to the rest of the world.

My mom's birthday is the day after ours. At no point growing up did I ever have a non-shared birthday.

As an adult, I was amused at the idea that finally I would know what it was like to be the center of attention ... until I started working my very first job post-seminary and the executive director of the more than a million strong organization had the exact same birthday. Ahhh ... thanks to buddies I really never suffered from a lack of a good time at the mid-July point when we were usually traveling with workshops but still ...

Last year, I was once again on the road for the actual day. And as I sat and chatted with the young man who had been such a terrrific host to a bunch of would-be emerging leaders, he revealed that he was having a birthday ... at the exact same time that I was.

Sooooooo .... (looking around for any evidence to the contrary) .... I think .... that I am actually celebrating without anyone else to share the limelight. And you know what? I'm nervous!

But tonight I plan on sharing good times with a loads of folks I love as we eat, drink, laugh and then make our way to a production on the life of Tammy Fay (yep, that one) that will help support one of my favorite local AIDS support networks. Who knows what will follow? And tomorrow we're going to keep the party going with a smaller dinner at my house.

Today, I woke up to torrential downpours and darkness. I decided then that I was going to be the warmth in people's lives today that we've been missing in these parts. I've shared my birthday wishes with those who have sent any kind of acknowledgement and I've fashioned each wish for the person who sent me their good thoughts. I figure that if I'm getting older there has to be some benefits and wishes to share is one of them.

So here's wishing you warmth, friendship and the joy of knowing there's always someone to share your birthday with.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Actually Happened

Waiting for a fresh pot of coffee to drip its last drip this morning, my boss asked the office manager how the switch to the new database was going. Good news was not forthcoming.

"I can only see one envelope when I open the program."

"Maybe there's a glitch and the others just aren't visible but there."

"I don't know"

As they begin to explain the scenario to me, I semi listen, recognize a response is in order and say:

"Oh ... sorry ... and I realize this is totally inappropriate but while you guys were talking I just realized my toenail polish totally matches one of the colors in this blouse."

I am sooooooo outta here!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Big News! Big Changes!

I'm leaving my job ... and in many ways, my career.

There! I said it. Whew! I feel better.

Actually, I feel great. Those who know me well know that for the last couple of years, I've struggled with feeling somewhat like the proverbial fish out of water. I loved the work environment that I was able to enjoy every day. I was good at my job. But the idea of working for institutional church life and especially working somewhat closeted about some of my convictions that would just not please those who I serve ... well, that troubled me.

I kept waiting for something to be "done unto me". I thought that the next right job would come about because of my connections with charities or organizations with which I easily agree.


Then I realized that I wasn't really that interested in simply changing my environment. I already had a great one. I realized that I couldn't fathom doing yet another newsletter.

That's when the convergence became noticeable. My lease on my place was about up. I was planning a short trip on a sailboat with friends and one of them mentioned rather playfully that I should just take off and work as the ship's cook for a while. I was asked to fill a very public volunteer slot with a very public organization that my place of employment would not be pleased if I accepted.

And I knew.

So I have no plan other than take a year and see what happens. Ok, I actually have several plans. (Again those who know me will appreciate the emphasis on options that continues to be a theme in my life!)

I may work on this boat at some point. The captain and I will chat in detail when we set sail at the end of July.

I am checking on doing some work with AIDS orphans in Africa.

I know when the two courses that would insure I have the proper certification for ESL occur and have all the paperwork at hand for applying.

And several friends have already offered their guest rooms. Since these friends extend from California, to Washington, to New Mexico, to Alabama and right here in Houston, I feel fairly sure I'll have a place to put my pillow.

I would love to see a novel come out of all this. I'm already writing much more than previously. Feels as though the freedom has unleashed a bit of creativity as well. I need to explore what it would take to make a living as a writer for magazines and such. I need to "try on" some roles and see what works best on me.

My stuff goes in storage to wait patiently for my return at the end of the year.

I tell the leadership at my work (my bosses and co-workers already know) in less than an hour. So I thought I would tell the folks who sometimes read this blog the news first.

Big news, right? Big changes? Definitely. Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

7 on 07-07-07

While someone has already suggested that this was just a bit too dorky for their taste, I have to brag on my buddies and I for how we chose to recognize the numerical phenomena of the past weekend.

Having planned on an hill country exploration for the post-July 4th weekend, we gave up when the hills were alive with the sound of rushing floodwaters! Then after checking out our options, we discovered that the Austin area stood a better chance of being dry than any other drive-to locale near Houston. So we decided to pack the blow up bed and descend on our friend Geary who is studying in our capitol city.

Roger, Brittany and I made it over on Friday night and on Saturday morning over coffee, Brit, Geary and I determined that we should somehow observe the day's significant 7 nature.

"Let's do at least 7 things," I think our Austin virgin Brit was the first to say that one.

"And each thing has to have 7 in it."

"Like we'll see 7 major sights."

"And each of us have to do 7 things we've never done before."

"How about 7 meals?"

"As long as they're small ones."

"And we talked about going to a winery so we'll taste 7 wines."

"We are also going to Pedernales Falls so we'll take 7 photos there."

"And I want 7 trashy souvenirs," again this from our virgin.

"And then at 7:07 tonite we'll do something related to 7, ok?"

So the plan was set. Roger, who had been in the shower, had no argument against it and we set off.

The Magnolia Cafe was our first stop and there I did something I have never done before. I engaged Brian our waiter regarding his tatoos (that I have done) and then requested his help in accomplishing our goal by assigning him the task of locating 7 things in his kitchen that he could give me (that I've never done). He willingly and thoughtfully complied with a to-go box that even included a pink crayon because the cafe used to be known for the pink flamingos the staff wore on their shirts.

We had made our first 07-07-07 convert.

By the time the day was over, the two waitresses in the wine bar had come over to our side as well. Lisa changed the way they do wine flights at Cliffords outside Dripping Springs to comply with our request for 7 tastes. And when the alarm went off that 7:07 p.m. was approaching, Jessica let Roger leave without signing the bill so he could join in our recognition. When she heard what we were doing, she asked to join us (bringing the credit card slip) and her own word to add to the seven words of kindness we were speaking into the universe on a Texas hillside.


And, Jessica added her favorite, "Love."

Mt. Bonnel, the capitol, Lake Travis, The Drag, UT campus, Amy's Ice Cream, and the State Cemetery were the sites we chose to note as our 7.

We didn't quite make 7 meals but since the last stop was a 7/11 just before midnight and we were at number 6 by that point we thought we would give ourselves points for the location alone!

Asking folks to get involved with our little project on at least three occasions was totally outside of what I might have done once upon a time. Eating at the South Congress Magnolia Cafe and standing in the waters of Federnales Falls were also first-time events for me. The Mansfield Dam, which I'd never seen before, had four flood gates open to deal with the rising waters that had so threatened this area. And I saw at least 7 famous Texans graves in the State Cemetery. Ann Richards still doesn't have a stone by the way!

When I shared the story with e, she pointed out that by the time we had enlisted the help of others, our merry band of 4 had become another complete 7.

Call it "cheesey" or me a dork, I love that we took a holy number and made a holy day of it!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Yep .. what he said ...

William Falk in the July 13 issue of The Week writes:

It's such a reassuring notion. Imagine a Supreme Court in which the justices do not make their decisions based on partisan biases, personal whims, or constitutional "penumbras" and "emanations" perceived by the justices alone. "The Constitution means what it says," says Justice Antonin Scalia. "You figure out what it was understoond to mean when it was adopted and that's the end of it." In practice, this philosphy of "originalism" or "strict constructionism" sometimes proves more vexing than it sounds: Did the Framers understand the right to bear arms to mean that every citizen could own a musket, or were they also guaranteeing the right to wield semiautomatics with 50-round clips? How about machine guns? Bazookas? When the Framers said Congress could not infringe on the freedom of speech, did they really mean "speech," as in words, or does speaking freely include the right to hand a 6-inch-thick pile of $100 bills to senators to do your billing?

Being human, you and I might succumb to the temptation to answer these questions to suit our own desired ends, and then reason backward to create a constitutional justification. (That's how justices get "penumbras" and "emanations.") But not Scalia and the orignalists. They know what the Framers intended. In its rulings thus far, the new Supreme Court has sided with religious groups, corporations, developers, the current president, and the white males, and against students, women, blacks, and atheists. Now, this is a wholly legitimate change of direction: The Constitution empowers presidents to appoint judges who share their political prejudices. Pretending that the court's rulings -- or for that matter, the rulings of any previous group of justices -- represent anything but a raw exercise in power, however, is transparently silly.

Can't help but read this and think about those who say the same kind of things about interpreting scripture . . . how they somehow also know what was intended . . . how equally transparently silly that idea is.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Clicking My Heels ...

"There's no place like home."

'Course for folks like me, just exactly where "home" is poses a dilemma. When I'm in Houston, I speak of going "home" to Tennessee to visit my family -- as I did this past weekend.

When I'm in Tennessee, I look forward to returning "home" to Houston where my other family -- the chosen one -- primarily reside.

Today, I landed in the Houston home after an extra night in Nashville due to bad weather and/or questionable practices of my favorite airline (c'mon, TWO plans had to cancel because of weather that no one on the other end of my cell phone said was really all that bad????).

As we touched down, I exhaled -- that soothing sigh that comes when comfort and joy are within reach -- comfort in the form of people who know and accept me in all my eccentricities just as I do them ... joy in the utter surprise each day holds as you brave I610, discover a new ethnic edible, watch God's great diversity actually reside side by side and revel in the enormity of a urban center that feels so much like the small town I just left behind.

No matter how far I roam ... Houston is definitely one of my best-est homes.