Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Friday, December 23, 2005

A contest before Christmas

A prize to the first person to correctly guess what this is:


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Matthew 25:42

Looking to make the world a slightly better place? Interested in doing it for the 2005 tax year? I knew you were.

I have three recommendations. They all focus on hunger, and I give money to all of them. Jesus, as you might know, was big into making sure that the hungry were fed. Whether or not you think Jesus is the Christ, you probably think that feeding the hungry is an admirable thing to do, and I’m going to give you some thoughts on three organizations that help to feed hungry people. Let us begin, and in alphabetical order so that I’m not placing value on one of these over another.

  • America’s Second Harvest was one of the very first organizations on site after Hurricane Katrina hit the US gulf coast. They were feeding people within hours of the storm subsiding, and they have continued to provide relief in that region ever since. Brooke and I have been giving them money for a few years now, and I’m so glad we do. I was even more satisfied with the choice we made to donate to them when I learned about their prompt appearance on the gulf coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

    The “second harvest” in the organization’s name refers to the harvesting of unsold food from conventional grocery stores to food banks. To the best of my knowledge, this is a secular organization. Donations to America’s Second Harvest are tax-deductible and are frequently matched by wealthy corporations during their fund drives—but don’t let that stop you. They’re a direct-action charity, and they need your money now.

  • Bread for the World is, and I make no claims to the contrary, a religious organization. The organization describes itself as “nationwide Christian movement that seeks justice for the world's hungry people by lobbying our nation's decision makers.” Donations to Bread for the World are not tax-deductible. This group used to get a sporadic check from me, but now I have them take a monthly donation from my credit card because I’m so happy with the things they do. I even take their (very occasional) phone calls, because 95% of them are informing me about a bill coming up, whether in the state or federal government, and that I should encourage my elected officials to vote against poverty and hunger.

    Bread for the World does not lay out tracts in soup kitchens or promote legislation that would coerce people living in poverty to become religious. This group endorses things like welfare and TANF programs and funding for the Millennium Development Goals. It seeks at its very core to feed the hungry people in the US and all around the world. Please go to the Bread for the World website (linked above) to learn more.

  • Heifer International is the one out of the three of these of which you’ve most likely heard. They get a lot more press than either of the previously mentioned organizations, but they do wonderful, wonderful things—things I’ve seen in action. Heifer is also a Christian organization, but they don’t proselytize, either. Donations are tax-deductible. If you are vegetarian or vegan, you might have legitimate reservations about donating to Heifer, as they buy and breed animals to be used by people in poverty. The use varies base on the animal, and it ranges from chicken eggs and alpaca fleece to meat and milk. There is the option to “buy trees” for a family or community, but as the disclaimer states, “Each purchase is symbolic and represents a contribution to the entire mission of Heifer International. Donations will be used where needed most to help struggling people.”

    I’ve personally seen Heifer Project working for people. During my short time in a small, displaced village in Honduras, I had the opportunity to see Heifer’s Honduran outpost and talk to the people involved in the “chicken project” in Nuevo Porvenir (the village’s name means New Future). A few families in the village were given several chickens with the understanding that as the chickens grew and reproduced, other families would be given chickens. For their efforts and resources, using their chickens for eggs was most efficient. Their children, they told us, were healthier. Everyone was sick less often, and the babies grew fatter. The people in this particular village had once lived at the top of a mountain but now live in the valley below. The rains from Hurricane Mitch literally washed the village and their farmlands down the mountain, and even two and a half years later, the people were still building new homes in the valley. The chickens give them food as they struggle to regain land for farming.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Whoa, baby

It suddenly occurs to me that it's possible I'll deliver on the anniversary of my mother's death. I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

My mother’s side of the family

or: Evildoers, Part III

Hope and my MIL threw a large baby shower for Ebry. We had expected about fifty people, but fewer than that arrived. Brooke’s side of the family—her dad’s family and mom’s friends—made quite a showing, but my side of the family is less reliable, it seems.

Truthfully, I hadn’t expected much out of my mom’s side of the family. My father’s remaining sister (the quiet and unassuming Aunt M) came bearing gifts jointly from herself and her 800-mile-away daughter (mother of the littlest monk), and she brought her local daughter-in-law who only learned of my pregnancy when the shower invitation arrived in her mailbox (she blames her husband, my cousin, for not communicating that or the fact that another cousin moved across the country). My other local cousins on my dad’s side haven’t dealt well with the lesbian thing: one attended our wedding reception but wouldn’t come to the ceremony, and the other refused to have anything to do with it but has always been very kind to Brooke.

My mother’s family, on the other hand, has expressed a great deal of interest in me since my mother’s death and even more so since the announcement of my pregnancy. Aunt O’Mascara brought a lovely gift for Ebry to Brock’s birthday party. Cousin Big Hair was thrilled to hear the news of my pregnancy from our grandmother. My grandmother, aunt, cousin, and cousin’s three daughters were invited to the shower. Despite multiple phone calls, they never responded to the invitation. They live an hour away. My brother has worked hard to keep in contact with that part of the family, so Hope was both frustrated and hurt by their lack of response.

If there’s one thing I learned from my mother about her family, it’s that we must have realistic expectations for their behavior. We cannot count on them to be supportive, even if they occasionally are. We cannot rely on them to communicate consistently or even cordially. We must not assume that they care about the impact of their behavior on other people. These are things I have learned about my mother’s family; I grew up knowing them as truth.

Hope still models her expectations for my mother’s family after what she learned about her own: they’re goofy and in need of some serious therapy and drug or alcohol rehab, but they love you and will be there when you need them. While the former is also true of my mother’s family, the latter is not.

In keeping with this tradition, two days after the shower, I received a $50 check in the mail from my grandmother, and she apologized for not being able to attend the shower. A week later, a Christmas card, edited slightly to be addressed to her “granddaughter’s” (sic) and containing a fat gift check, arrived from her. To my knowledge, neither she nor my aunt nor cousin have returned any of Hope’s phone calls. C’est la famille.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

More on evildoers

For full details, please see the link below.
"Most Wanted" Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005

By Global Exchange

Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favorable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.

Though it isn't easy, we can check the power of corporations—and citizens around the world are stepping up to do it. Global Exchange developed this list of some of the world's worst corporate abusers to illustrate that on issues as diverse as assassination, torture, kidnapping, environmental degradation, abusing public funds, violently repressing political rights, releasing toxins into pristine environments, destroying homes, discrimination, and causing widespread health problems, familiar companies like Dow Chemical, Coca Cola, Caterpillar, Lockheed, Philip Morris, and Wal-Mart play a big role. Now we need you to take action!

Several of the companies below are being sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law that allows citizens of any nationality to sue in US federal courts for violations of international rights or treaties. When corporations act like criminals, we have the right and the power to stop them, holding leaders and multinational corporations alike to the accords they have signed. Around the world—in Venezuela, Argentina, India, and right here in the United States—citizens are stepping up to create democracy and hold corporations accountable to international law.

This list of "MOST WANTED" corporate criminals gives you information about the abusive behavior of this year's top fourteen worst corporations, tells you who is responsible, and how to connect with and support people who are doing something about it. The more you know, the less these corporations can continue their abuses out of public eyesight: so share this information with your friends, get on the phone with the CEOs themselves, and exercise your rights as a citizen and consumer today.


    CEO: James Owens
    Contact the Corporation: Caterpillar Inc.
    100 NE Adams St.
    Peoria, IL 61629
    Phone: 309-675-1000
    Fax: 309-675-1182

    Human Rights Abuses: contracting with known violators of human rights, enabling house demolition, supplying equipment that kills Palestinian civilians and American peace activists


    Chairman and CEO: David O'Reilly
    Contact the Corporation: Chevron Corp.
    6001 Bollinger Canyon Rd.
    San Ramon, CA 94583

    Human Rights Abuses: environmental destruction, health violations, and violent killings


    CEO: E. Neville Isdell
    Contact the Corporation: Coca-Cola
    One Coca Cola Plaza
    P.O. Box 1734
    Atlanta, GA 30301
    Phone: 404-676-2121

    Human Rights Abuses: violent killings, kidnap and torture, water privatization, health violations, and discriminatory practices


    CEO: Andrew N. Liveris
    Contact the Corporation: Dow Chemical Co.
    2030 Dow Center
    Midland, MI 48674

    Human rights abuses: creation of chemical weapons, marketing poisonous chemicals, illegal dumping of toxins into populated areas, environmental destruction, health problems, death


    CEO: Van Honeycutt
    Contact the corporation: DynCorp/CSC
    2100 East Grand Avenue
    El Segundo, CA 90245 USA
    Phone: 310.615.0311

    Human rights abuses: causing health problems, environmental devastation and death; endangering lives; physically abusing individuals; sex trafficking


    CEO: William Clay Ford, Jr.
    Contact the Corporation: Ford Motor Company
    P.O. Box 685
    Dearborn, MI 48126-0685

    Human rights violations: environmental degradation, climate change, fueling wars for oil


    President and CEO: CEO Andrew Lane
    Contact the Corporation: KBR
    601 Jefferson Street
    Houston, TX 77002
    Phone: (713) 753-2000

    Human rights violations: Overcharging and providing unnecessary services on taxpayer's dollar, bribery, exploiting third country nationals


    CEO: Robert Stevens
    Contact the corporation: Lockheed Martin Corp
    6801 Rockledge Dr
    Bethesda, MD 20817
    Phone: (301) 897-6000

    Human Rights Abuses: War profiteering, warmongering


    CEO: Hugh Grant
    Contact the Corporation: c/o Kathleen Klepfer, Chief of Staff for Hugh Grant
    800 North Lindbergh Boulevard
    St. Louis, MO 63167
    Phone: (314) 694-1000
    Fax: (314) 694-8394
    Email the CEO

    Human Rights Abuses: Displacement, health violations, and child labor


    CEO: Joe Weller
    Contact the Corporation: Nestlé USA
    800 N. Brand Blvd.
    Glendale, CA 91203
    Phone: 818-549-6000
    Fax: 818-549-6952

    Human Rights Violations: Abusive child labor, repression of worker rights, aggressive marketing of harmful products, violation of national health and environmental laws


    Chairman and CEO: Louis C. Camilleri
    Contact the Corporation: Philip Morris USA
    Consumer Response Center
    P.O. Box 26603
    Richmond, Virginia 23261
    Email form
    Philip Morris International
    Consumer Service
    Case Postale 1171
    1001 Lausanne, Switzerland

    Human Rights Abuse: aggressively marketing lethal products


    CEO: Henry A. McKinnell
    Contact the Company: Pfizer
    235 East 42nd Street
    NY, NY 10017-5755
    Phone: 212-573-1000 (switchboard)
    Fax: 212-573-7851

    Human Rights Abuse: Killer price-gouging


    CEO: Mr. Gérard Mestrallet
    Contact the Corporation: Suez
    16, rue de la Ville-l 'Evêque
    75383 PARIS Cedex 08
    Phone: +33 1 40 06 64 00
    Email the CEO

    Human rights abuse: Water privatization


    CEO: Lee Scott
    Contact the Corporation: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
    702 Southwest 8th Street
    Bentonville, AR 72716
    Tel. (479) 273-4000
    Email corporate headquarters

    Human Rights Abuses: worker rights violations, labor discrimination, union busting

More on Ford

Deb PriceMonday, December 12, 2005
Deb Price

Five years later, gay car enthusiasts still gush about their Motor City gathering: The Big Three rolled out the welcome mat -- showing off futuristic autos, providing tours and even giving out Ford T-shirts.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," recalls Frank Markus of Lambda Car Club International's Detroit chapter, where half the members work in auto-related jobs. "It was definitely a 'Cadillac event,'" he adds, using a compliment favored by collectors of luxury cars.

It also happened to be the year that Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler jointly announced they were extending health benefits to their gay workers' partners. Many club members, inspired by the Big Three's leadership, drove back home to ask their own employers for equal benefits.

Detroit's gay community and the automakers have a deep, respectful friendship. Gay Ford workers originally dubbed themselves "Ford Family." Now known as Ford Globe, the group's Web site details a decade of gay-friendly policies at Ford, the only automaker to get a perfect score in 2004 and 2005 on the gay Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

So nowhere more than in the Motor City are gay folks stunned by the news that Ford, following talks with the anti-gay American Family Association about its boycott threats, announced the company will no longer advertise Jaguars and Land Rovers in the gay press.

Ford insists any suggestion it is retreating from its gay-friendly history "is just plain wrong." But it also says, "We don't intend -- directly or indirectly -- to take sides on controversial or emotionally charged social or moral issues." Hmmmm.

As we say in my business, "More will be revealed." But Ford's stumbling p.r. efforts have left Motor City gay folks feeling hurt or confused, yet eager to give an old friend the benefit of the doubt. As many put it, "I think Ford just made a blunder; I've made plenty."

Leslie Thompson, executive director of gay Affirmations, wants to believe Ford's decision not to advertise anything but Volvos in the gay press was "driven strictly by a business case." Ford, she notes, was the first of the Big Three to contribute $250,000 toward building Metro Detroit's $5.3 million gay community center, set to open next year. That $250,000 check was a record donation by a Fortune 500 firm.

"It's impossible to begin to explain how much the Big Three make a difference," says Thompson. "We create a safe space. You can walk down the hallway holding your partner's hand. Or just say 'I'm gay' out loud and not be afraid."

One big new gay fear is that Ford has lost its way. The cover of Between the Lines, Michigan's gay paper, captures that worry: A gay-pride rainbow bumper sticker on a Ford pickup has had "AFA" plastered over it. Where did the gay artist get the Ford pickup? She owns it.

The other new fear among those of us who're gay and prize the jobs Ford provides and the good it does is that gay national groups will lash out. Between the Lines wisely pleads that anyone mulling a gay boycott instead "come to Michigan. See the hard-won benefits and donations before you work to dismantle this valuable relationship."

As anti-gay rhetoric heated up in the 1990s, Ford did have a better idea -- reach out to gay workers and customers. Now, Ford's loyal gay friends are eager to forgive and forget. We just need to hear Ford say, without hedging, that it still values having a good relationship with us.

Reach Deb Price at (202) 662-8736 or dprice@detnews.com.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Showering people

The shower was great. My father arrived Friday afternoon, and we ate pizza and sat around bullshitting Friday evening. Saturday morning, we had a brief visit from Paul, Hannah, and Brock while Brooke and Hope made for the shower site to get things ready. After being laid up for a week, my pulled pelvic muscle was nearly healed, so I spent Saturday afternoon milling around, greeting people, and generally having a good time.

We got so, so much stuff. Brooke and I are so unbelievably lucky to have so many people in our lives who want to shower us with things for our baby. Highlights include: a super soft green and pink blanket with raised dots, side-snap tiny baby shirts (so the umbilical cord isn’t irritated by buttons), a fat stack of board books (including one that chirps), and the bunting that my MIL made for Brooke before she was born.

Years before any of us were trying to have kids, my mother bought a tiny sweater at a yarn shop near our family’s cabin. When Hope was pregnant with Hannah, Mom gave it to her with the instruction that it be passed on to me. So much time had passed that I had completely forgotten about the sweater. Hope murmured to me as I started opening gifts that there was a card in the bag, plus a card on top of one of the packages explaining that gift. I read the card. I opened the package. I smiled and thanked Hope.

I was fine until something prompted me to tell my Aunt M that the white sweater vest with the wooden button shaped like a bear was from my mom. Others were confused. Hope told the guests about the sweater and my mother’s request.

Hope said it’s not a baby shower unless something makes us cry. I cried.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Ford and Family

Joint Statement on Media Reports of Ford Motor Company Entering Into Confidential Agreement with American Family Association:
We are deeply dismayed by reports in the media and otherwise that the Ford Motor Company has entered into a confidential agreement with the extremist American Family Association (AFA) that requires Ford to stop advertising in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media. If there is an agreement with AFA, we expect Ford to disavow it. We expect Ford to publicly reaffirm its historic support for our community. And, we expect Ford to meet with LGBT representatives this week to resolve these concerns.

Family Pride
Freedom to Marry
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Human Rights Campaign
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund
Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC)
Out & Equal Workplace Advocates
PFLAG National (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network
Triangle Foundation

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sushi? Vermicelli?


Friday, December 02, 2005

Dropping off the face of the earth

And back!

Tuesday, November 22nd: Got a case of the Yucky-Feeling Throat

Wednesday the 23rd: Skived off work; went to midwife for routine visit; traveled to Dad’s place

US Thanksgiving—Thursday the 24th: Watched Hannah and Brock, “helped” Brooke prepare Thanksgiving entrée, attended dinner at sister-in-law’s aunt’s place; lost voice

Friday the 25th: Felt searing pain in throat; took Christmas card photo; came home and went to bed

Saturday the 26th: Stayed in bed while SFIL installed dishwasher; went out to dinner with friends

Sunday the 27th: Went to Urgent Care for severe throat pain; took Tylenol-3

Monday the 28th: Stayed home; felt bad; developed head cold

Tuesday the 29th: Felt worse

Wednesday the 30th: Felt worst of all (couldn’t sit up long enough for Brooke to comb my hair); went to doctor and got amoxicillin

Thursday the 1st: Felt remarkably better—better enough to watch a DVD! And toast an English muffin!

Friday the 2nd: Felt better than I have in over a week, yet not actually “well”; went to work anyway

And tomorrow, I have my baby shower. Although the attendees will be primarily female, there will be somewhere around 50 of them. Holy fucking fuck. That’s a lot of people.

Oh, and Brooke’s coming down with something, too.

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