Monday, June 27, 2016

Ten Things I’m Grateful for After a Broken Month

A month ago this minute, a nice ordinary day turned into a nightmare when I got hit by a car in the crosswalk. It’s been a hard hard month, but if I didn’t have such a lucky life, it would have been a lot harder.

1.     I’m grateful that I have family and friends to take care of me when I need it, particularly my best friend/ex-wife without whom I’m be sniveling and starving under a pile of dirty dishes.
2.      I’m grateful that I work in a neighborhood where people stop to help if they see you get hurt. I’m particularly grateful to the two Muslim men who called 911 and stayed with me until friends came, but also the friend-of-a-friend who went to get me water and ice, for my work friends who stayed with me until the ambulance came, and for the driver who stopped after he hit me.
3.      I’m grateful that I live in a beautiful neighborhood full of flowers and lightning bugs, where there are yard sales and art sales and neighbors who surprise me with chocolate bars and lavender poundcake, where I can sit outside reading or writing every morning until it gets too hot.
4.      I’m grateful for Orange Is the New Black giving me a chance to scream-sob about all of the things.
5.      I’m grateful for my rewatch of The West Wing and I’m grateful that my outlook is more The West Wing than House of Cards so that I could take to heart the shows of support from Democratic leaders (particularly John Lewis) in the horrible wake of Orlando.
6.      OH MY GOD I am grateful for Obamacare, without which a physical nightmare would have been (more of) a financial one as well.
7.      I’m grateful for my very loving cats. Sally always sits next to me and Frannie always sleeps by my face, assuring me I’m loved and safe.
8.      I’m grateful for my #365RainbowDays and for the fact that I’m well-versed in positive psychology, because I’ll need a lot of intentional joy to circumvent the depression and fear vying for attention in my brain.
9.      I’m grateful to the LGBTQ+ community both here and online—thank you for caring so much, fighting so hard, and being so beautiful.

10.  I’m grateful that I didn’t miss a day of tutoring yet, and that my other two jobs are as friendly and flexible as can be. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to lift textbooks again, but I’ll be so excited when that day comes.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What the Pulse Vigil Meant to Me

The weekend was awful even before the horrible news. I’d had surgery on my broken arm the Friday before and the pain, nausea, and trapped feeling went right along with the national mood. I was supposed to be marching with the library in the Philly Pride parade that day, but instead, I stayed in with my ex-wife/best friend, Rear Windowing the internet and intermittently crying.

By the day of Philly’s vigil, I was grateful to be unwoozy enough to attend. I considered it a personal victory that I didn’t cry in the candle section at the co-op. I was tired and scared, but I knew that when I got there, another kind of strength would carry me through.

The last time I went down to City Hall was the day I met Hillary Clinton on the eve of her Pennsylvania win, but the vigil was even more urgent and powerful. What struck me first was how on-message the crowd was, signs raised for LGBT rights alongside signs for gun control and against Islamophobia.

Philadelphia is often a segregated city, but at this vigil, as at the Hillary rally, I saw a spectrum of humanity, unified for love, peace, and progress.

After the reading of the names, after the speeches that I couldn’t quite hear and the singing that I could, (I’ve had several sleepless nights with “We Are a Gentle, Angry People” stuck in my head.) we marched around City Hall, silent and solemn, unbreakable. 

Tourists watched with curiosity and rainbowy people cheered from the sidewalks. As we rounded the corner near Broad Street, I saw a little girl with curly blond hair and a PRIDE T-shirt standing at a crosswalk with her fist raised. I raised my fist in return and felt lucky, lucky, lucky to share a world with her. A tall, exuberant transwoman in black lace and stilettos tried to start a “Hillary! Hillary!” chant, but the magic silence soon prevailed.

After the march, there were the candles.

One bank of candles felt the most sacred. The air was almost dewy with prayer and I felt at peace in a way that I hadn’t for months.

There was a singalong in the street. I joined in on “Let It Be” and “Lean on Me” and “This Little Light of Mine.” We all had fun realizing we didn’t know the words to “Born This Way.”

My arm was hurting and I was feeling pretty faint, but it took Amy and me a long time to leave.

The week that followed would be full of sadness and anger, but at the vigil, I got flowers and a hug.

That night, my life and the lives of forty-nine hate crime victims counted for something, and I resolved to do my best to keep the love and belonging of that night with me, by working to stop gun violence, by strengthening my ties to my GLBTQ+ community, and by getting back to campaign work as soon as I can. I want to honor those lives by spending mine wisely, on love.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

May Goals Complete, Gentle June Goals

I'll try to write about it more as I learn to type left-handed, but last Friday on the way to work I was clipped by a car in the crosswalk and I have a broken arm. My body and brain are exhausted, but I'm going to try and keep the serotonin going.