Home-o-normativity: A New Year-ish Post

I was about to write that January is for burrowing in, hunkering down, and laying low, but then I checked and realized those were the exact words I used last January, which either suggests that I am right about January or that my powers of description are painfully limited. Or perhaps it means that university professors really do have the least stressful jobs on earth. No, wait, that idea has been thoroughly debunked. Torn to shreds. Subjected to the Onion comparison.

Still: January. I didn’t go to the MLA again. The Woman Formerly Known as Goose did, and she had a wonderful time, as she always does because she revels in the hobnobbing and the glad-handing and all the other compound words used to describe high levels of social interaction tied to the advancement of professional goals and interests. (See also back-slapping, party-hopping, and name-dropping.) I enjoy those activities, too. In smaller doses.

And so I stayed home to do my burrowing and my futzing and my rearranging of this and that. Last January I focused on denuding the front of the refrigerator, which had gotten covered by an impressive assortment of photos, magnets, bumper stickers, ticket stubs, and masterpieces of kid art. This year I tackled the pantry, which in our household serves to store a little bit of food and prodigious amounts of stuff that should probably be tossed or stored elsewhere. It took me a couple of days, but I successfully cleared the top of the little wine fridge (which is in the pantry), our favorite place for piling crap when company is coming and we don’t know what the hell else to do with it.

Another project I took on ended up consuming a lot more time than I had anticipated and in a couple of moments had this Madwoman on the brink of smashing her shiny new Laptop in a fit of frustration. As the household photographer and archivist, I had long wanted to go back to my very first Mac laptop, the comically large (17″) PowerBook G4, and retrieve hundreds of photos that had never been migrated to subsequent machines. I figured this would be a simple operation, especially when I cranked up the old aluminum mare alongside my sleek new MacBook Pro and noticed that the photos on the old machine showed up in the Source list under “Shared” in iPhoto on my new computer. I had more than a thousand images on the old computer, but about half of them had already been migrated. (When? How? Why? And why were the others left behind? Heck if I know!) I thought, well, I’ll just select the 500 or so I want to take, drag them into the new photo library, and run upstairs and tell WFKG what a fricking techno-wizard I am. Unfortunately, the maneuver was only half successful. The images migrated, but the order got messed up, as the date/time data on some of the images got scrambled in the transition. Suddenly, pictures from WFKG’s epic fiftieth birthday party were interspersed with photos of the Thanksgiving Festival of Terrapins, Texans, and Norwegians that we hosted in 2004, and that was just wrong, wrong, wrong. I undid the maneuver and tried it again, firmly believing that if at first you don’t succeed at something you should repeat the same flawed procedure until you are ready to slam your head up against the nearest brick wall.

apple supportNot surprisingly, my efforts failed. I might not have mentioned this, but WFKG and I do in fact live in a brick house, so the head-banging option was available. After a prolonged series of Interweb searches and several smug well-intentioned pronouncements from Facebook friends, most of which involved the word “Dropbox,” I finally did what I probably should have done in the first place: picked up the phone and called Apple support. I felt better about my tech-wizardry when I had to be passed up the line to a supervisor, who spent more than an hour working with me, including doing that creepy/amazing thing where you give some unseen dude access to your computer, before declaring that there was no way to unscramble the data, because the operating systems and the versions of iPhoto on the two computers were simply incompatible. All I could do was manually change the date/time information on the migrated images to get them back in the right order. Which I did. Because my German brain really does require that kind of thing.

Why am I telling you this? Because I worry that you, too, have a growing pile of old computers in your home and that they hold images, documents, and data that will be compromised or lost if you don’t tend to the tedious tasks of migrating, merging, and updating. I say this as a super-slacker when it comes to updates, but I am resolved, in a New Year-ish kind of way, to try to do better. Check back with me in a month to see if I’ve tackled the equally complex problem of how to consolidate iTunes libraries scattered across half a dozen computers and other devices. Hello, Eric? Me again. Could you help me figure out where I put the Brandenburg concertos and, um, that song I impulsively bought on iTunes after I heard it on Glee? What? No, I don’t remember the name of the group. Or the song. Or which episode it was. Eric? Are you there? Eric? Is this Apple support?

Don’t let your past get locked up in a machine that is no longer functional or accessible. That’s all I’m saying, darlings.

In other January news from the homefront, we had to have a tree brought down this week, an old maple in a remote corner of the ridiculously large back yard. Roxie loved that tree, which had a sort of saddle close enough to the ground that she could climb up into it and look out over the property as if to say, “I am lord and master of this joint. Back off, little squirrels.” And they did. The tree had been leaning precariously over a neighbor’s yard for quite some time and finally began to uproot itself after the devastations of the derecho and hurricane Sandy. It was sad to see it pulled down, piece by piece. I will miss its presence in our sky, but it left some lovely remnants, several of which the neighbor plans to keep in her yard. We made a table and chairs out of pieces of an oak we had to bring down not long after we moved into this house. We called it “Log-Henge” and enjoyed it for years, until eventually it crumbled into the soil, a perfect mulch for another corner of the garden. I told the neighbor that story on Tuesday. She smiled.

Cycle of life, dear readers, cycle of life. Indoors. Out of doors. This is our home. It deserves our loving attention. Peace out, and happy new year.

Photo Credit: The Madwoman, 1/8/13

Photo Credit: The Madwoman, 1/8/13

Terps Against Marriage for Marriage Equality (1.0)

[An edited version of this post was published yesterday in the QTU campus newspaper, The Diamondback. Like all authors, I prefer the unedited version, so I’ll exercise my blogger’s right to do it my way, with links, right here in my own little corner of the non-peer-reviewed and gatekeeper-free Interwebz. I was motivated to write the column in part because The Diamondback published an article last week in which leaders of the campus undergraduate LGBT organization announced that it wasn’t taking a position on a measure that would extend the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples in Turtle Country because “there are differing opinions on marriage, and we don’t want to invalidate one person’s stance.” And because “Queer relationships are not recognized even if gay marriage does become legalized.” True, I thought, but, oh, boy, this is what we get for teaching the children all that trouble with normal stuff. A little knowledge  can be a tricky thing. So I sat down at ye olde laptop and banged out a cranky old queer reply. See what you think. I’ve got a busy day on tap — There’s a civil rights battle to be won here, darlings, and apparently I’m helping to lead the charge. Peace out.]

I have lived happily in a state of unlicensed love with a same-sex partner for more than twenty-eight years. She and I have been fortunate in that we’ve never needed marriage to give us access to health insurance. We were both born in this country, so we also didn’t need marriage to ensure our rights to live and work here. When we reached middle age and realized we needed to give some thought to long-term planning, we could afford to hire an attorney to draw up wills to give our relationship protections similar to those enjoyed (for free) by married couples.

We haven’t needed marriage, and in many ways we didn’t want it. Indeed, you might say that we hated marriage before hating marriage was cool, though we are not really the hating types. As feminists, however, we have tended to view marriage skeptically, as an institution that oppressed women and shored up the social and economic powers of patriarchy and heterosexuality. We were proud of having built a secure, loving, mutually supportive relationship that was in many respects like a marriage yet remained outside the institution. Years before queer critics of marriage railed against the unfairness of forcing couples to marry in order to prove their worth or secure a set of rights and benefits that ought not be tied to relationship status, my partner and I were happy to sing along with Joni Mitchell that, “We don’t need no piece of paper/From the city hall/Keeping us tied and true” (“My Old Man”).

That’s what I mean when I say I am a Terp against marriage, much as I respect particular marriages and anyone’s desire to be married. Now let me tell you what I mean when I say I am a Terp against marriage who is also emphatically for marriage equality.

Marriage equality is a matter of civil rights, plain and simple, and as such I am committed to fighting for it, heart and soul, without a shred of doubt or ambivalence. If the state is going to be in the business of licensing relationships, then it cannot discriminate against same-sex couples that want to be civilly married. To do so is to set up classes of citizens and to engage in sex discrimination, which are in my judgment both abhorrent and unconstitutional. I may not want to be married, but that is my business and my decision. Legally, however, I should have the same right other citizens have to marry whomever I choose. The state should not deny me the right it extends to others. Grant me the right, and I will decide whether or not to exercise it. That is called freedom, and LGBT citizens cannot be denied the same freedom that non-LGBT citizens enjoy.

In a few weeks, Maryland voters will be called upon to uphold or reject the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would extend the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples and protect the rights of clergy not to perform marriage ceremonies in violation of their religious beliefs. If the law is upheld by an affirmative vote on Question 6, Maryland would be the first state in the nation to approve the right to same-sex marriage through a popular vote. (Three other states – Maine, Minnesota, and Washington – will vote on similar measures on Nov. 6, but polls close first in Maryland, which is why we have a shot at being the first in the nation to win on marriage equality at the ballot box.)

I am opposed to subjecting the rights of minority groups to a popular vote. It violates my sense of fairness and a core conviction that rights are, as the authors of the Declaration of Independence put it, unalienable. They cannot be granted or taken away because they are part of our equipment as human beings and as citizens.

Nonetheless, my hope is that this time a majority of voters will recognize that same-sex couples deserve no more and nothing less than what opposite-sex couples have in the eyes of the law. My hope is that voters in the state I’ve been proud to call home for twenty-six years will vote out of love rather than fear and in support of justice rather than injustice. Polls currently show that a majority of likely voters say they will vote for Question 6, but we can’t take anything for granted. We need to work hard in the coming weeks to educate voters on the issue and to mobilize them to vote in support of it.

This Thursday, Oct. 11, is National Coming Out Day, a day when we celebrate being open about and inclusive of sex and gender diversity. There are two Question 6 events being held on campus that day: a panel discussion with four of Maryland’s openly gay legislators who helped to pass the Civil Marriage Protection Act in the general assembly and a rally with Sen. Ben Cardin and other leaders in support of marriage equality.

I hope you will consider attending these events and that you’ll support the cause of equality regardless of how you feel about marriage or homosexuality. I am not asking you to approve of me. And I’m not saying that marriage will be good for LGBT people or that LGBT people will be good for marriage. All I am saying is that no group of people should be denied equality before the law. If you agree with me on that single, enormously consequential point, please vote yes on Question 6.

Because this Terp who is against marriage but for marriage equality looks forward to the day when her decision not to marry the woman she adores will be legally meaningful in the Free State.

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