If I Could Turn Back Time: an Ode to Crystal

There’s just no way this is happening.  And yet, against everything my soul is fighting against, I find that it’s true.  You see, one of my dearest friends, Crystal, has passed away.  As I sit here looking at a blank computer screen, it seems unfathomable to me to believe that my friend, my “bestie,” my partner-in-crime, has passed.  It doesn’t seem possible that someone so full of life, love and laughter wouldn’t be with us any longer.  All day, I’ve passed through a myriad of emotions ranging from sadness, denial, depression, anger, despair, numbness – and as I type this, I’m in complete and utter shock that all of this has happened.

My dear, sweet friend Crystal is one of those people who is an absolute joy to be around.  She has a way of making you smile, laugh, even feel good about the world around you even when everything is crashing down and miserable.  Through the years, she’s been a rock to so many people, and someone who has always been there to encourage those who are downtrodden to get up and try again.  If there was ever a person who was an angel in disguise, it’s definitely her.  I can’t count how many times she’s been there for me, encouraged me… I simply can’t believe it.  I keep thinking this just doesn’t seem real, that there has to be some mistake.  She is the one who stood by me when times were hard, and gave me the strength to carry on when I thought there was nowhere left to go.

She has always been there for me, regardless of the circumstances.  If I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was there.  If I needed to vent, she was there.  If I needed someone to just be a friend and joke around with, she was there.  I remember how she was such a support to me in difficult times, and such a friend during good times.  There were so many times we joked with each other about doing our Cher impersonations in our own version of carpool karaoke that it almost seemed to be iconic moments in time.  Now, looking back, the lyrics, “If I could turn back time,” have never been so poignant.

There have been so many people who have been touched by her love and generosity, even some who would never have the honor of meeting her face-to-face.  Crystal has always been the person you could count on to quietly lend a hand to the homeless, the downtrodden, the abused; anyone who needed love and compassion was sure to find it if they came in contact with her.  Even those who will never know it was her have been recipients of her love and kindness:  from those who benefited from shoebox gifts at Christmas and various other charities, to those who were in the domestic violence shelter… these people benefited in some way from her generosity and love.

Crystal has always been extremely loyal to her family and friends, and we were blessed to count ourselves in that number.  I personally know that during times of great sadness and despair, she has always been there for me to help me in any way she possibly could.  There are very few people in this world today who have the courage to show the kind of love and compassion Crystal showed.  It’s not everyday you discover these people, and my life has truly been made so much better and richer for having known her.

The main, driving force in her life was her Christian faith.  I realize this has been said about many people, but Crystal is one of the few people who actually “walked the walk” instead of “talking the talk,” as so many people phrase it.  There are many examples of her good works I could share, but the most obvious example of her faith has been her desire to help others around her.  If there was ever a person you could count on to fight for what’s right in this world, it would be her.  I’ve witnessed her do everything in her power to help pick others up and lend a hand in times of need.  If you ever needed anyone in your corner, you were extremely blessed to find Crystal there.

I hope to one day be half the person she was in this life.  To find such a person to walk along beside, even if only for a short time in this journey, is a rare blessing. I’m extremely thankful to have shared this time with Crystal, and I look forward to meeting her again on the other side of eternity.

I love you, my friend. I’m so heartbroken you’re gone, but I know you’re better now and happier now than you have ever been. We may be parted right now, but I know in my heart this isn’t the end. I’ll see you again, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to in heaven. Until then, know that those of us who are left will keep watch over each other, and always hold you close in our hearts.

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2016: The Annus Horribilis, vol. 2

In 1992, Her Majesty The Queen opened a speech with these words:  “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year.”  I’m not sure about you, my dear reader, but I believe these words could also describe our look back at the aftermath of 2016.

I think this past year can be summed up in four words:  what the heck happened?!?  While I realize that my memory isn’t one for the record books, I don’t remember a year where we’ve dealt with more hatred, death, bitterness,division and all-around disappointment than we have this year.

On a personal note, this is the year I lost my last living grandparent. My grandma on my father’s side passed away on June 10.  Her health declined rather quickly in the last few weeks of her life, but I’m so grateful to have been able to see her and talk with her before she passed.  It will be I time I shall forever hold dear to my heart.

This year marked a milestone for me.  After over ten years at the same job, I made a move to another office.  So instead of being an oncology nurse, I’m now in pulmonary.

But enough about me, on to the rest of the world…

We’ve dealt with the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which started when high levels of lead was found in the citizens water supply.  Trying to fix it became no easy task, and to this day, the poor people living there are still having to deal with the red tape and other day-to-day problems this has caused.

The Powerball lottery reached a record 1.6 billion (yes, that’s Billion, with a “B”), and I didn’t win one red cent of it.Powerball Lottery

A bunch of redneck he-hanks in Oregon, led by some Jethro Bodine wannabe, decided they wanted to go live in a wildlife preserve to protest the government not letting them do whatever it was they wanted to do on federal property.  They became such a laughing stock by not thinking their little sit-in completely through and going on youtube or wherever asking people to send them supplies, that they were actually sent, get this… boxes upon boxes of dildos!  Eventually, their great leader was caught outside the compound with a few others in his car when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.  Things went from bad to worse when one of them got testy and decided he wanted to run towards the cop and throw a hissy-fit (or something along those lines, I forget) and get himself shot. Things went downhill from there.  Let’s just say they’re all in jail now, or on trial, or both.A pro-militia supporter holds a constitution while chanting

This year we saw a rise in police shootings in the black community, which brought about the Black Lives Matter movement to counteract the shootings. Then, an All Lives Matter movement started to counteract the Black Lives Matter movement.  Throughout the entire year I’ve seen my friends go back-and-forth with each other over who was right and who was wrong. Personally I think that having sunk to the point of needing either movement and not automatically treating each other as equals and having mutual respect for one another, is a sad commentary on where we are as a society.2015-09-04-1441395137-7049687-image3

A new game came out on smart phones everywhere called, Pokemon GO.  If I understand it correctly, you run around with your phone catching imaginary pokemons, and he who has the most, wins.  People were running around like they had lost their ever-loving minds, standing in the middle of roads, running onto others private property, and even falling off cliffs to their death trying to catch these things. I don’t know about you, but trying to catch some Peek-a-choo, Peak-at-you, Hoochi-hoo, Coochie-Coo, or whatever they’re called isn’t enticing enough for me to risk my life.  Thank you, but I’ll pass on this one.1-go-300x169-jpg

The biggest news, for myself anyway, is the vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union.  The “Brexit” vote, as it had become known, came as a surprise to practically everyone, since all the pollsters predicted the victory would go to the “stay” campaign. Ironically, it was only AFTER the results were announced the next day that Google declared there was a huge uptick in the people of Great Britain looking up, “what is the European Union?”  David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, as well as other Tory leaders.  Theresa May was placed in the role of Prime Minister, all in a time span of approximately two weeks.Great Britain and European Union

The summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though there were doom-and-gloom predictions of the city not being ready for them, due to being behind on construction of the proper facilities.  To add insult to injury, they also had to deal with the Zika virus outbreak, as well as reports of the water being unsafe to swim in.  For the most part, however, the games went smoothly from what I understand.  But of course, I didn’t watch them since I don’t keep up with the volleyball.maxresdefault

Samsung began selling the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, only to discover once you got yours, it was destined to spontaneously combust into flames, burning you and everything around it.  Even airlines refused to allow them on their flights. Samsung eventually had to discontinue the phone, even after the initial recall to fix the problem failed. I knew it was hailed as the new hot item, but I think actually setting itself on fire is taking the idea of being “hot” to the extreme.160902161818-02-samsung-galaxy-burnt-phone-note-7-exlarge-tease

The closer we got to Halloween, the more we started hearing about these bizarre clown sightings, where weirdos dressed up in clown costumes would just stand in the edge of the woods near playgrounds, creeping out kids and parents alike.  If it was just an isolated incident, I could understand that it was most likely one sicko with nothing better to do than scare people, but it seemed to be happening all over the country.  Simultaneously. That just added way too many levels to the creepiness for my taste.download

One of the most unusual things about 2016 is the amount of notable people and celebrities who have died this year.  It seemed that it started in January, and never stopped.  Here’s a list of some who have died, although it’s by no means a complete list:

Pat Harrington, Jr
Most famous for playing Dwayne Schneider on “One Day at a Time.”  Died January 6.

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David Bowie
Iconic musician, actor.  Died January 10.

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Rene Angelil
Celine Dion’s husband and manager.  Died January 14.Celine Dion & Rene Angelil Arriving At

Alan Rickman
Actor famous for roles in “Harry Potter,” “Love Actually,” “Die Hard,” and others. Died January 14.alan2

Glenn Frey
Co-Founder of the band “The Eagles.”  Died January 18.635887447644481100-xxx-glennfrey-glader-hp2a5017-v01-78965680

Joe Alaskey
Best know for voicing “Daffy Duck” and “Bugs Bunny.”  Died February 3.020316-joe-alaskey-composite-getty-3

Maurice White
Founder of “Earth, Wind & Fire.”  Died February 3.maurice-white

George Gaynes
Best known for roles as the commandant in the “Police Academy” movies as well as “Punky Brewster.”  Died February 15.960

Angela “Bid Ang” Raiola
From the reality show “Mob Wives.”  Died February 18.960-1

Harper Lee
Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Died February 19.Nelle Harper Lee

Tony Burton
Played Apollo Creed’s trainer in the “Rocky” movies.  Died February 25.8bb103a0-3c0e-4fca-935f-beb470b8f0f4-large16x9_tonyburtonz

The Earl of Strathmore
Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died February 27.

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Joey Feek
Part of the country music duo “Joey+Rory.”  Died March 4.gty-joey-feek-cf_151214_16x9_992

Pat Conroy
Author of “The Prince of Tides.”  Died March 4.gettyimages-697790_wide-52f67899aee1aa239c59c58300242f10ca4e9dca-s900-c85

George Martin
Manager of “The Beatles,” often called “The 5th Beetle.”  Died March 8.george-martin

Phife Dawg
From the hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.  Died March 22.tribecafilmfestival2011portraitstudioczmefy2dmkal

Garry Shandling
Actor most famous for “The Larry Sanders Show.”  Died March 24.gs_headshot

Jim Harrison
Author, “Legends of the Fall.”  Died March 26.28harrison-obit-master675

Mother Mary Angelica
Founder of the Catholic TV network, EWTN.  Died March 27.160327-mother-angelica_3328b036067ec2fc40d88a3c54c3ad7b-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Patty Duke
Star of “The Patty Duke Show.”  Died March 29.29906170001_4821895521001_4821837867001-vs

Erik Bauersfeld
Voice of General Ackbar from “Star Wars.”  Died April 3.admiral_ackbar_erik_bauersfeld_split

Doris Roberts
Actress who played the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Died April 17.50942744CBS_CON025635067

Prince
Musician known for “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” among many others.  Died April 21.prince

Michelle McNamera
Crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt.  Died April 21.160423102606-michelle-mcnamara-patton-oswalt-exlarge-169

Papa Wemba
Known as “the king of Congolese Rumba.”  Died April 24.Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs dur

Billy Paul
Singer best known for “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  Died April 24.billy-paul

Alan Young
Actor best known for his role in “Mr. Ed.”  Died May 19.21youngsub-obit-master768

Muhammad Ali
Award-winning boxer.  Died June 3.Muhammad Ali 1970

Anton Yelchin
Known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films.  Died June 19.anton-yelchin-2015-869x1024

Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and humanitarian.  Died July 2.elie-wiesel-9

Miss Cleo
Famous for playing a Jamaican psychic in infomercials.  Died July 26.miss-cleo-dead1

The Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosnever, the 6th Duke of Westminster.  Died August 9.Duke of Westminster death

Kenny Baker
Played the droid R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Died August 13.1_star10

Gene Wilder
Known for playing the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as characters in “Haunted Honeymoon” and “Young Frankenstein.”  Died August 28._90962477_mediaitem87811809

The Lady Chablis
Transgender performer made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the movie version.  Died September 8.ripladychablis2016-500x565

Alexis Arquette
Transgender actress.  Died on September 11.169768042_1473621270

Shawty Lo
Atlanta rapper.  Died September 21.

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Agnes Nixon
Creator and writer of “All My Children,” “One Live to Live,” and other soap operas. Died September 28.agnes-nixon-dead-ftr

Shimon Perez
Nobel prize winning Prime Minister of Israel.  Died September 28.166

Raine Spencer
Raine, Countess Spencer, step-mother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Died October 21.Countess Spencer

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton.  Died November 7.janet-reno

Leonard Cohen
Canadian singer-songwriter.  Died November 7.1411561144285-cached

Robert Vaughn
Actor from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Died November 11.172582164_1478889790

Gwen Ifill
Co-anchor of PBS “Newshour.”  Died November 14.gwenifill

Florence Henderson
Best known for portraying the mother on “The Brady Bunch.”  Died November 24.agape_rg3_florence-henderson-horiz_s4x3_lg

The Hon. Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes, cousin and best friend to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died November 25.Margaret Rhodes

Fidel Castro
Former President of Cuba.  Died November 25.1420832283181-cached

Ron Glass
Actor best known for his roles on “Barney Miller” and “Firefly.”  Died November 25.

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John Glenn
The first astronaut to orbit the earth.  Died December 8.john-glenn

Joseph Mascolo
Actor best known for his role as super-villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of our Lives.”  Died December 7.

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Alan Thicke
Actor who played the father on “Growing Pains.”  Died December 13.2014-08-08-alanthickehs1

Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hollywood icon and socialite.  Died December 18.zsa-zsa-gabor-1

George Michael
Musician best known as the front-man for the 80’s rock group Wham!, and his later solo career.  He was known for having hits with songs such as “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Careless Whisper,” “Outside,” and many others.  Died December 25.

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Ricky Harris
Comedian with a recurring role on “Everybody Hates Chris.”  Died December 26.58627e111500002300915fdc

Barbara Tarbuck
Actress best known as Lady Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” as well as Mother Superior Claudia on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”  Died December 27.

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Carrie Fisher
Best known as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”  Died December 27.carrie_fisher_2013

Debbie Reynolds
Actress and singer.  Carrie Fisher’s mother.  Died December 28.debbie-reynolds

While not a complete list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, it’s astounding to me how many notable people have passed away this year.  I’m convinced there is some kind of cosmic serial killer on the loose in Hollywood.  I do hope they’ll catch this cosmic killer before he/she does anymore damage!

Since this was an election year, I would be remiss to not mention the election cycle we just survived.  The Americans just experienced the most bizarre election that I can personally remember.  Mind you, I’m not one to get into American politics, but this year was different for me.  To begin, the Republican party seemed to begin the election cycle with everyone who was a Republican running for President. Eventually, they whittled away their candidates until they were left with one:  Donald Trump.  On the Democrat side, they had Hillary Clinton running against Bernie Sanders for the nomination, and it was Hillary who won the nomination of her party.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you the only reason I was remotely interested in the American elections was Hillary. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her husband, Bill, was President.  Even in those days I wanted her to one day be President herself.  Don’t ask me why… I chalk it up to a “cult of personality” thing more than any stance on any issue.

Given the vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist, nauseating and overall repulsive things Donald Trump said during his campaign about minorities, women, LGBTQ’s and anyone who isn’t a white, straight, Republican male, I couldn’t in my wildest nightmares imagine this guy would have a chance to become President.  During the campaign, videos emerged of his rally’s where people were attacked, thrown out, and bullied.  The man was endorsed by practically every hate group in the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, who said he was the candidate that “most embodied their beliefs.”  And yet, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, although she won the popular vote by nearly three million more votes. Now the orange hemorrhoid is about to lead the country for the next four years.

On the other hand, there actually HAS been some good to come out of this year.  I met some amazing people at my new job who are absolutely wonderful.  I had to buy a new car when my Mazda gave up the ghost, but so far, my new gray Nissan is running really well. We nicknamed it “The Gray Ghost.”  We’ve made plans to visit England this coming February, and airline tickets and hotel have been reserved.

So having said all that, here’s to the end of 2016, the annus horribilis vol.2. Let’s all hope and pray 2017 is somehow much better.  Lord knows, it couldn’t get much worse.

Runway Runaway

I’ve been mulling over the idea of whether or not to write this particular post, due to the possibility of offending certain people. With that in mind, and not being one to back down from setting the ill-informed straight, here we go… and to “heck” if the guilty are upset.

Lately I have found myself being an attendee at a few weddings and funerals; two very different observances in the circle of life, but both extremely important. While attending these particular ceremonies, I have noticed (as one would over the last few years) that I need to remind my dear, precious readers of the importance of at least one very important thing.

What is that thing, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s HOW YOU DRESS!! Of course, there are other things I could discuss concerning how to conduct yourselves during these events, but for this particular blog entry, allow me to focus on this one particular subject.

There is hardly anything in our lives that are more important than weddings and funerals. They are, for the most part, once in a lifetime events for those who are the center of such functions (although I know there are those who marry two, three, four or more times… as well as those who “die,” but there’s a mistaken identity which leads others to believe the dearly departed is another person… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Days of our Lives, you never know). In times such as these, it is extremely important to remember that those in attendance should have at least one thing for the person or persons you are honoring: that thing is called RESPECT.

For most of us, it pretty much goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for said ceremony, but unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming more common among some people to totally disregard the appropriate dress for such occasions. That brings us to the point that I feel I simply have to remind you of what is acceptable and what is not.

While I thought about discussing each event in individual blog entries, I decided to lump them together since it seems the offending individuals treat both with the same disregard for decency. When you are invited to a wedding, that should alert you to the fact that the couple thought enough about you that they decided to share their most important day with you and that you would, at the very least, wear the appropriate attire based on the time of day the wedding will take place. As a general rule, that would include a suit and tie for men, and dress for women. Based on what time the wedding is to take place and the venue, a quick Google search would tell even the the most ill-informed what would be the most appropriate items to wear to said event. But even if you’re too stupid to read subtle hints, I can assure you that shorts and a t-shirt will not be on the list.

The same rules apply to funerals. If you loved or admired the dearly departed enough to attend their funeral, even the most common of attendees should have enough sense to wear something appropriate for such a ceremony. I have attended funerals lately where people have actually shown up with t-shirts with various wording printed on them, jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc. Since these people seem to have no frame of reference to base their poor decisions on, let me be the first to tell you that this is not acceptable. At the very least during a funeral, you should wear a suit and tie or dress, similar to the proper attire for a wedding.

Now before you get all huffy-and-puffy and try to blow somebody’s house down, I completely understand and accept that there are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where other attire would be completely appropriate. For example, I recently attended a memorial service for a very dear friend who wanted his service at the beach, led by a friend who asked others to share stories of their time together, and they specifically asked people to dress casually, in beach-appropriate clothes. It was an amazingly beautiful service, and it reflected the personality of our friend who passed away perfectly. That, my dear readers, is an instance where it’s totally acceptable to show up in shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.

The same exception can also apply to something like a backyard-barbecue-styled wedding, where the bride and groom have asked those in attendance to wear casual, street clothes. I’m hoping you can see a theme emerging for the exceptions, but if you’re much too daft to catch on, let me spell it out for you: only wear what I would call “street casual” clothes to such events if you’re told by the hosts that it’s the preferred style of dress. Got it? Lord have mercy, I hope so.

Not only does dressing appropriately for said functions show respect for those you’re honoring by your attendance, it also shows respect for YOURSELF. One would hope that when you go to functions such as weddings and funerals, you would also show enough respect for yourself as to want to make an effort to look your best. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actually, dressing appropriately will help deflect attention away from yourself (even though that might be slightly traumatic to those who are actually narcissistic enough think they’re always the center of attention, regardless of the situation), and allow the focus of attention to be on the ones you’re actually honoring by being at their service. When it’s all said and done, after all, it’s about them and not you.

Don’t misunderstand my little rant here by assuming I’m suggesting that everyone show up in the latest Christian Dior or Vera Wang ensemble to come off the runway. Far from it. If you’re someone on a tight budget (and believe me, I know there’s more of us than those who can afford designer clothing), I’d like to point out that even Walmart carries clothes that would be considered appropriate styles for such events. So you see, dear readers, dressing appropriately doesn’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have at least one suit or dress in your wardrobe for such events, now you can go out and get one. You never know when you’re going to need it. Believe me, no one is going to know where you got your clothes or how much you paid for them unless you’re one of those crass people who shout that kind of information from the rooftop.

Keep in mind, all of this is simply my opinion, which I realize in some circles doesn’t mean anything. You might disagree wholeheartedly with what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’d be wrong, but you can disagree all you’d like.

So having said all this, please keep in mind that if you ever get the chance to attend my wedding or funeral, I would personally prefer you dress for the occasion. A word of caution, however; if you come to my funeral in flip-flops and t-shirts, I will jump out of that casket, snatch you bald, and have security guards drag you out and throw you onto the street for showing such disregard for my memory.

Got it? Good.

Of Crime and Passion

First of all, I’d like to apologize to all my followers out there for not writing in such a long while. It seems once life speeds up and throws one thing after another at you, plus the lack of inspiration, writing seems to take a back seat to everything else going on in life.

To make everyone aware, my paternal Grandmother passed away this weekend. As you’ve most likely discerned from my previous posts, I’ve always been close to my Grandmothers. Even though I may have been closer to my maternal Grandmother (my Grandmother who passed away this weekend lived much farther away, so distance played a large part in our closeness growing up), that in no way diminishes the love I have for her. But that, as they say, is another topic for another time, when my head can wrap itself around everything that has transpired over the last few days.

The biggest news to come out of this weekend is, obviously, the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. With everything going on in my own life, I was one of the last to hear the news until much later. It seems around fifty people were killed, along with an additional fifty-or-so people wounded when a shooter opened fire on a crowd inside a gay nightclub in Orlando named Pulse. I’ve heard some call it one of the worst mass-shootings in modern American history.

Since I’m one of those people who practically stay logged into Facebook, I soon saw all these reports being posted of the incident, and the horrific tales which soon followed. As I began scrolling through my friends posts and reading comments, one in particular stood out to me. Trying to come up with something meaningful to say about the incident was extremely difficult for me, given my own personal loss this weekend, but I think the following summed up what I was thinking more succinctly than any other. After receiving the authors permission (thank you so much, Alex Darke), I’d like to post the message in its entirety for all to read. I think it says a lot about the state of mind and the struggle fought by those affected by this tragedy.

Earlier today, a friend remarked: “I don’t understand. The way you are reacting, it’s almost like you knew someone in the club.”

Here’s the thing you need to understand about every LGBT person in your family, your work, and your cirle of friends:

We’ve spent most our lives being aware that we are at risk.

When you hear interviewers talking to LGBT folks and they say “It could have been here. I could have been me,” they aren’t exaggerating. I don’t care how long you’ve been out, how far down the road to self acceptance and love you’ve traveled, we are always aware that we are at some level of risk.

I’m about as “don’t give a shit what ANYONE thinks” as anyone you’ll ever meet… and when I reach to hold Matt’s hand in the car? I still do the mental calculation of “ok, that car is just slightly behind us so they can’t see, but that truck to my left can see right inside the car”. If I kiss Matt in public, like he leaned in for on the bike trail the other day, I’m never fully in the moment. I’m always parsing who is around us and paying attention to us. There’s a tension that comes with that… a literal tensing of the muscles as you brace for potential danger. For a lot us us, it’s become such an automatic reaction that we don’t even think about it directly any more. We just do it.

And then… over the last few years, it started to fade a little. It started to feel like maybe things were getting better. A string of Supreme Court decisions. Public opinion shifting to the side of LGBT rights. Life was getting better. You could breathe a little bit.

What happened with this event was one of a few things that are pretty dramatically demonstrated by how Matt and I are reacting to this. Matt came out fairly late, during the golden glow of the changing tide. He’s never dealt with something like this. It’s literally turned him inside out emotionally because all that stuff he read about that was just “then” became very much “NOW”. For me, I’ve had some time to adjust to the idea that people hate us enough to kill us. Matthew Shephard was my first real lesson in that. So this weekend was a sudden slap in the face, a reminder that I should never have let my guard down, should never have gotten complacent… because it could have been US.

Every LGBT person you know knows what I’m talking about. Those tiny little mental calculations we do over the course of our life add up… and we just got hit with a stark reminder that those simmering concerns, those fears… they probably won’t ever go away. We’ll never be free of them. Additionally, now we just got a lesson that expressing our love could result in the deaths of *others* completely unrelated to us. It’s easy to take risks when it’s just you and you’ve made that choice. Now there’s this subtext that you could set off someone who kills other people who weren’t even involved. And that’s just a lot.

That’s why I’m personally a bit off balance even though (or because, depending on how you look at it) I live in Texas and was not personally effected by this tragedy. Don’t get me wrong: nothing will change. I will still hold my husband’s hand in public. I will still kiss him in public. We’ll still go out and attend functions and hold our heads high.

But we will be doing those mental calculations for the rest of our lives. Those little PDAs you take for granted with your spouse. They come with huge baggage for us. Every single one is an act of defiance, with all that entails.

So do me a favor. Reach out to that LGBT person in your life. Friend, co-worker, or family. Just let them know you are thinking of them and you love them. That will mean the world to them right now. I promise you.

For me, reading this post and reflecting on the tragedy of this weekend really drove home the point of how hate and bigotry are still alive and well, even in spite of the recent examples of people being more tolerant and accepting of the LGBT community. Of course, I never thought it had gone away, but knew it was hiding in the shadows, ready to strike at any given moment. I suppose I never expected it to strike out in such a dramatic way. I suppose I say all this to express that I simply can’t understand how such crimes against humanity can occur to people who are passionate about nothing more than wanting to go about living their own lives on their own terms, loving another human being without causing harm to any other person on the planet. But hate is an all-consuming, relentless, deplorable state-of-mind, and it causes misery in its wake wherever it goes.

I pray for the families of the victims, hoping they can somehow find peace in all this chaos and sorrow. I pray for others affected by this tragedy that they can (and I know they will) find the strength to keep fighting the evil that seeks to destroy them and hold their head high, knowing that their bravery has overcome that which seeks to destroy them. To everyone personally affected by what has happened, please know that I stand with you in spirit, and I’m sending love your way and encouragement for you to keep being true to yourself, no matter the odds!

The First Annual Christmas Letter

It’s that time of year again—the time where people take stock of the previous year and reflect on the good things that have happened as well as the not-so-good things that have occurred. Many people have taken to participating in this trend of writing Christmas letters to their loved ones, so for the first time ever, I decided to do the same. Here are a few highlights from my year:

As many of you know, my driving expertise is considered by many to be lacking. To add to the weird things I’ve hit with my car, you can now add “swimming pool” to the list. It wasn’t my fault, however, so let me explain… Upon leaving the illustrious Walmart, I found myself behind someone who bought one of those kiddy pools they have propped up on the side of the store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have it tied down very well. As we started driving down the road, the wind picked it up and threw it onto the road, just in enough time for me to run over it as it hit the ground. I suppose I should be grateful their weren’t any “kiddies” in the pool at the time.  Did I also mention I received at text from “John” asking me if I would be interested in driving for Uber?  I guess “John” doesn’t remember riding with me.

This year, I actually received a letter requesting my presence for – of all things – jury duty! To make matters worse, it was from a county I haven’t lived in for probably ten years. While I thought it was a nice gesture on their part to think of me, I wasn’t about to be bothered with all that nonsense. We all know I would have found them guilty just for dragging me to a cold, inconsiderate, uncomfortable courthouse that hasn’t had fresh air in it since 1952. When I called to inform them I couldn’t accept their lovely invitation due to not being a resident of that particular county, the receptionist (or whatever you would call her) on the other end told me I had to send proof of residence in order to be removed. I asked her, “Was the fact that you had to send me the letter to my address two counties away not proof enough for you that I don’t live there anymore?” After a brief silence, Miss Personality rambled on about how they needed a copy of my drivers license and such. Fine. I sent her the requested info to which I received a letter releasing me from said jury duty for the rest of my life.

We decided to move this year after finding a good deal on a house outside of town, so we decided to sell and move.  I don’t know how it is in your area, but I’ve quickly discovered it seems people house-hunting in Wilmington seem to expect people to GIVE them a house.  For free.  After some insulting, low-ball offers, I instructed our Realtor to tell people if they want a free house to talk to the people at Habitat for Humanity and to leave me alone. I hate it for my Realtor, however. She’s the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, and she’s doing her best, given the fact Wilmington house-hunters are cheaper than Ebeneezer Scrooge after he’s fallen on hard times.

Since this is the year where all the arguing and fights start to commence in the political arena, I would be remiss without mentioning that there have been some back-and-forth banter among my friends and myself. Suffice it to say, I have some stupid friends.

That pretty much sums up my noteworthy experiences for 2015. There’s plenty of other things I could have written about, but let’s face it – I would’ve totally bored you to tears if I haven’t already. I hope you have had a great year, and an even better one to come! In the words of Her Majesty The Queen, “A very happy Christmas to you all.”

Prayer for France

Join with me in praying for the people of Paris, and for all those in France and the rest of the world touched by these senseless acts of terror:

Lord of all compassion,

We pray for all of those caught up in the midst of tragedy or disaster.

For those who have lost life and those working to save life,

For those who are worried for people they love,

For those who will see their loved ones no longer,

Lord have mercy.

For those in need of the peace that passes all understanding,

For all who turn to you in the midst of turmoil,

For those who cry out to you in fear and in love,

Lord have mercy.

For those in confusion and those in despair,

For those whose tears are yet to dry,

For those in need of your unending love,

Lord have mercy.

Amen.
from http://www.churchofengland.org

 

 

With these Handcuffs, I thee Wed

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about a woman named Kim Davis (no relation, thank the good Lord) who serves as the County Clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky. Just in case you have been under a rock or in a coma and don’t know who I’m referring to, here’s a quick recap: Mrs. Davis has been making headlines in the news recently due to her unwillingness to issue marriage licenses ever since the Supreme Court made gay marriage legal nationwide. She attributes her refusal to issue said marriage licenses to her ultra-conservative religious beliefs.

Ever since the Supreme Court laid down the gauntlet and declared that homosexual couples had the same right to marriage as their heterosexual counterparts, Mrs. Davis has had her apostolic panties all twisted in a knot and has made it impossible for anyone living in her county to receive marriage licenses, gay or straight, by denying everyone a marriage license. So now we have the old, “if I can’t have it my way, no one will have it in any way” song-and-dance.

Why is she doing this? From what I understand, she adheres to a belief that the “homosexual lifestyle” is a sin in the eyes of God, and that signing the marriage license for a same-sex couple is somehow supporting a relationship she doesn’t agree with. Regardless of the fact that it’s one of the main responsibilities of her position, Mrs. Davis has consistently refused to do the very job she was elected to do ever since same-sex marriage became legal.

I don’t know about you and your particular job, but in my situation, I would find myself in the unemployment line faster than I could say “fundamentalist hypocrite” if I were to refuse to do part of my job duties. Herein lies the problem with this whole sordid, convoluted mess. Mrs. Davis was elected to a secular government position which, when she took office, swore an oath to follow through on all duties which pertained to her position – the signing of marriage licenses being one of them. Due to her beliefs regarding homosexuality, however, she is refusing to do her job duties and using “religious freedom” as an excuse to get out of it. Since she’s an elected official, she can’t exactly be fired, so that makes the issue even more of a headache to deal with.

Those who are supporting her and her crusade against same-sex marriage have wasted no time in crying foul to anyone within earshot and trying to make the case that she is the one being mistreated due to her religious beliefs. The poor girl is simply trying to do what she feels the good Lord leading her to do.

A certain friend of mine said it best – “Well ain’t that just the skank calling the slut a whore!”

Anyone with an IQ greater than Forrest Gump can surely see this for what it is; nothing more than hate and bigotry dressed up in the robe of religiosity. Those who support this woman are constantly bleating about how her religious freedom is under attack. Listening to these people have caused me to suck my teeth and roll my eyes so hard that my fillings are loose and I’m constantly dizzy.

In order to gain a little perspective here, let’s talk a little bit about what an attack on a persons religious freedom looks like. If you’ve been awakened in the middle of the night by intruders in your home who’ve come to beat you (or even worse) because of your beliefs, or you’ve been kidnapped and tortured because of your Christian faith, you’ve been persecuted. If you’re expected to sign a marriage license for a gay couple, and it stands in contrast to your faith, you’re not being persecuted. Why? If for no other reason, the fact that you are free at any time to resign from that position and find another job out in this crazy world where you don’t have to deal with another persons marriage should be evidence enough. No one is forcing Kim Davis to remain in her position (or even change her beliefs about same-sex marriage), but she refuses to leave her post, and at the same time, refuses to do the job which she’s been elected to do.

Today Mrs. Davis was finally put in jail for her actions, and from what I understand, will remain there until she gets her head out of her posterior and agrees to do her job or resigns. People on social media are posting their little hearts out, for and against her and her stance. Politicians and other high profile people are also weighing in with their thoughts on the matter. Even presidential candidate Mike Huckabee took to twitter today defending Mrs. Davis. In my own personal opinion, if a repulsive, hypocritical, pedophile-loving piece of trash like Mike Huckabee is defending you, that should tell you just how wrong you are… but I digress.

It remains to be seen how all this will play out before it’s all over with. I hear that the Rowan County Clerks office will actually start issuing marriage licenses tomorrow in Mrs. Davis’ absence. It should be interesting to see what tomorrow holds, and even more interesting, to see how long Kim Davis lasts in jail before she has a change of heart about her so-called convictions.

The Duggar Dilemma

So, my dear readers, it would seem we have another scandal amongst the religious right to discuss. As I’m sure anyone who’s not been living under a rock for the past week has heard, the Duggar family has found themselves a tad embarrassed by the actions of their eldest child, Josh. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Duggars… they’re this cult-like ultra-conservative family who has managed to make themselves famous by having a reality show called “19 Kids and Counting” which has aired on the TLC network. They’re part of this weird group of people who follow some odd “quiverfull movement,” which prohibits any and all kinds of birth control due to some whacked-out belief that it is somehow on the same level as abortion.

These people, who I might add are as crazy as a houseful of sprayed cockroaches, actually have nineteen children. Can you imagine giving birth to nineteen children? My nether regions hurt just thinking about it, but that’s neither here nor there. It would seem Michelle, the family matriarch, has had no problem popping out one child right after the other. I don’t know what Jim Bob (and that’s really his name, I’m not making this stuff up) does for a living, but I suppose he had to be well-paid to feed nineteen quiverfull mouths on a daily basis.

In any case, it has been revealed this week that Josh, the oldest of these nineteen children, had sexually molested his sisters and some others in his early teenage years. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his parents knew about it the entire time and kept it under wraps. Now the truth has come out, and as expected they’re playing the part of the victim.

Why the part of the victim, you might ask? As they’ve gained notoriety and fame, they have come out against gays and lesbians, and anyone who isn’t just like they are, to accuse them of living sinful lives and condemning them to eternities in hell as if they had that kind of power to begin with. In doing so, they’ve placed themselves on a pedestal as the definitive Christians that everyone should strive to be, and woe unto you if you don’t live up to what they deem acceptable. In their attempts to be the perfect Christians, they have also promoted themselves as martyrs if anyone disagrees with their viewpoints or fights back against their hatred clothed in religiosity.

Now that pedestal seems to be cracking and falling apart, and rightly so. After all, these so-called “Christians” tried to keep the illegal actions of their oldest child away from the authorities and out of the spotlight so no one would know. I know some will say they reported it to the authorities, but if you look closely they only reported it to a “family friend” who, by chance, was a policeman. This same policeman was also found to have child pornography in his possession. This “child pornography connoisseur” only gave him a “stern talking-to” and left it at that. One has to wonder if this “talking to” was nothing more than trading pornographic child molestation stories or something else. I guess the world will never know. It also seems quite odd to me that this revelation was only made to the public after the statute of limitations had passed for this particular crime.

In any case, these people have led others to believe they are so superior in their ethics and beliefs that they have become (in their own mind) the standard by which all others are judged. They have taken it upon themselves to speak out against such things as transgendered persons using the appropriate bathroom when they have to relieve themselves. Michelle, the family matriarch, accused transgendered people of being “child predators.” Well, I suppose if anyone would be an authority on child predators, it would be Michelle Duggar. After all, she raised one.

But I digress.

It now seems that the shoe is on the other foot for these so called “Christians,” and it isn’t fitting well. It’s funny to me how these people are so quick to sit in judgment of others while they and their loved ones are guilty of the very same acts they accuse others of doing. While it may be said by those who support these hypocrites that “he who is without sin cast the first stone,” one has to remember that it was the Duggars who have been willing to cast the first stones at anyone and everyone who were different than they were from day one. Now, those stones are being thrown back at them and they have nowhere to hide.

Poor Duggars. I guess they forgot about that verse in the Bible that says,”For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.” (Luke 8:17).

Have fun with working out the fact that, like everyone else, you are sinners and no better than the rest of us. Actually, I might take that back: you might be worse than anyone else, seeing that you put yourself on a pedestal for all the world to emulate. After all,”From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”(Luke 12:48)

While I’m sure there will be those who defend the Duggars to the ends of the earth, I have to wonder how they would feel if it was their daughter who was molested by this clown. When the infraction hits close to home, most people sing a different tune than the one sung by his supporters. But I suppose it’s easier to pontificate on appropriate actions from a distance than when you’re the victim or trying to cover up the sins of your family.

The Drama-Llama Goes To A Funeral

I’m sure that most people can agree that, most of the time, social media is a good thing. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter make it so much easier to keep in touch with others we know who might live far away, and gives us a chance to see what’s going on in their lives. Like all good things, however, there seems to be a rotten, vile, decaying underbelly of a dark side to it which I stumbled across this weekend.

While I’m still not sure how it happened, I found myself with a notification on Facebook glaring at me that a friend of mine had a family member who passed away in another state. Being the wonderful, sweet person that I am, I thought I’d click on the message and see what happened and offer my condolences. Well, dear readers, just when you’d think it was safe to wade back into the waters of Facebook status updates, the sharks I ran across in this thread made Jaws look like a mild-mannered goldfish.

Even as I write this, I’m not really sure what happened to the dearly departed – and from the comments left by those on this message thread, it doesn’t sound like they were 100% sure either. From speculations of a drug overdose to stroke, the cause of death ran the gamut between the two. Eventually, a family member joined in the conversation and told someone it definitely was NOT an overdose, and the one spreading such erroneous information should take that post down due to it upsetting the family even more. Astonishingly enough, said poster refused to take it down, stating that she heard it was an overdose, and she might amend her statement, but she wouldn’t take it down.

Say what? I sat there in disbelief as I read that statement. Even after someone with intimate first-hand knowledge of the situation at hand reveals this person did not die of an overdose, the poster in question still refuses to take down erroneous information?

That’s when things really got heated!

You could tell that people all of a sudden divided themselves into two camps over the issue of who was right and who was wrong, and the hatred and vitriolic comments spewed forth like no one had ever heard of a personal filter before. Suddenly people were attacking each other like they were involved in the cyber version of the Battle of Normandy, and honestly, I think they forgot what they were fighting over. I think if we could have gotten them all in the same room, it would have been the bar fight to end all bar fights.

The whole time I was reading the foolishness people were saying to one another, I kept thinking to myself, “do you people not realize you have someone here who has passed away? Of all times, this is NOT the time for this kind of pettiness!” If the drama llama were to ever attend a funeral, I’m sure it would be really proud of the scene playing out before me on my screen.

Having said all this (and believe me, I left a lot of what was said out of the story because there might be children reading), I want to tell you that this is NOT how to behave when someone dies. I felt bad for the deceased as I read, thinking he would be ashamed of how those he knew and loved were treating each other, especially over Facebook where all the world could see it and read what was being said. While I’m sure there were deeper issues at play than what was revealed on my computer screen, things like this shouldn’t find it’s way out into the world for everyone and their Grandma to see. As a sign of respect, I would have thought that those in mourning over the passing of their loved one would at least honor his life by not fighting over a computer. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but we just don’t do that sort of thing here.

As someone who has spent more time at funerals and wakes than most people my age, allow me to give you a few pointers on how not to behave:

1. When you give information on how the dearly departed has died and are then shown the person in question didn’t actually meet their Maker in that fashion, you should politely apologize for spreading false information and retract your statement. In the same instance, others should accept that apology and move on.

2. This is definitely not the time to drag up old issues that have gone unresolved. Nerves are raw enough without dragging out what Aunt Suzie or Uncle Joe did twenty years ago that still has you miffed. There is a time and place for that, and this is NOT it.

3. If you’re unsure if what you’re about to say is helpful or not, KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT. Simply offer prayers and support instead of risking the start of World War III over saying something stupid.

4. Never, and I mean NEVER, resort to blaming others over what happened or using the moment as an opportunity to air your dirty laundry in public. No one wants to see that, and believe me, you’re doing the person you’ve lost a disservice by acting in this manner.  Keep this argument quiet for another time.

I’m sure I could go on and on about things you should and should not do, but I think you get the point. Maybe someone who was involved in that argument might read this and come to the realization they were acting like petulant children and being an embarrassment to the memory of their loved one. Maybe they’ll see this and get all bent out of shape that I’m using them as an example of poor behavior. If that’s the case and you get angry, well… that says more about you and your self-centered, despicable attitude than it does about anyone else.

Either way, I’m sorry for your loss. I hope you come to honor your loved one with love and respect and can at least put aside your differences until after the funeral.

Until We Meet Again…

As I sit here, it’s so hard for me to believe that my friend has passed. It simply doesn’t seem possible for someone who has always been so full of life, love and laughter to not be with us any longer – at least in this physical life. Right now, I feel as though I’m in complete shock that all of this has happened.

My dear friend – who I’ll keep nameless for the sake of privacy – is one of those people who has always been a joy to be around. He’s always had such a fantastic sense of humor. Listening to him tell what could be considered the most mundane of stories from someone else would have you doubled over in laughter hearing him recount a story as only he could tell it. Whether he was describing an encounter with a “Wal-Martian” in a particular shopping chain he absolutely hated to go to, or recounting the story of some drunk neighbor falling down the stairs of the apartment building where he once lived would always have you gasping for breath between fits of laughter.

Not only was he well known for his sense of humor, his cooking was legendary among all who knew him as well. The spread he and his partner would prepare for friends during Thanksgiving and Christmas were spectacles which would make Martha Stewart foam at the mouth with envy. Everything was always beautiful, and tasted even better! How some people had shows on the Food Network and he didn’t always boggled my mind.

He and his partner have always been extremely loyal to their friends, and they obviously counted them as family. I know during times of great sadness and despair, they have always been there for me to help in any way they possibly could. Very few people in this world today have the courage to show the love and compassion for those around them that he and his partner have done. It’s not everyday you discover these people, and my life has been made so much richer for knowing him.

One of the driving forces in his life was his Christian faith. I realize that has been said about many people, but he is one of the few who actually “walked the walk” instead of “talking the talk” as so many phrase it. Out of the many examples I could share, the most obvious example of his faith has been his desire to help others around him. If there was ever a person you could count on to fight for what’s right in this world, it would be him. One thing he absolutely hated was injustice and how others who were downtrodden were treated at times. I’ve witnessed him do everything in his power to help pick others up and lend a hand in times of need. If you ever needed anyone in your corner, you were extremely blessed to find him there.

I hope one day I can be half the person he was in this life. To find such a person to walk along beside, even if only for a short time in this journey, is a rare blessing. I’m extremely thankful to have shared this time with my friend, and I look forward to meeting him again on the other side of eternity. As he lay in his hospital bed, I whispered to him before he passed, “Tell my Grandma I love her, and make sure you hang out a lot with her. You guys are so much alike you’re gonna get along like gangbusters! And when I get there, I want to hear all about your antics!”

I love you, my friend. I’m so heartbroken you’re gone, but I know you’re better now and happier now than you have ever been. We may be parted right now, but I know in my heart this isn’t the end. I’ll see you again, and I can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to in heaven. Until then, know that those of us who are left will keep watch over each other, and always hold you close in our hearts.

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