Tuesday, November 30, 2010

a life

I was in my hometown yesterday, celebrating a family birthday at my parents' house.  I go home for occasions like that - family celebrations, the occasional visit with friends, the odd event that draws me home. Sometimes I visit in the summer to breathe in the natural beauty, to walk the pathways, to wake something in myself that lies dormant when I am away. But I seldom see anyone I knew from high school or elementary school unless I choose it. The older I get, the more I realize that the burdens of living in that town, of being forced to accept a social hierarchy that none of us created were too much for most of my peers to bear. With a few exceptions, many of us got the hell out of there. Some of us came back, older, wiser, and hopefully worked for conscious change in our community by choice this time. Some remained, content with the structure that had been created for them. I came back to be closer to my family, and left again because I had more of the world to experience than the twin rivers and stone walls of the town I was raised in.

Yesterday, I idly picked up and glanced through my parents' church bulletin. The church was a mainstay in childhood - really, the only connection to community that my mom had for a long time. We went to the catholic school, and sat in the front pews at mass for years. I outstayed my welcome, singing in the choir for the pure joy of singing, long after I had abandoned the restrictive and misogynistic views of my former religion. It was all I knew. In my parents' bulletin this week, there was a brief RIP for a former grade school classmate of mine.

Yes, people pass from this life. He is not the first of my former classmates to die. He was not a particularly close friend, nor did he seem to have a bright future, either inside or beyond out hometown. I remember him best as a fellow victim.  We, separately, were the brunt of many jokes, became the laughingstock, had the crap figuratively kicked out of us every day by one person or another. But we weren't friends.

 Had we been able to stand together, perhaps we could have stopped some of the bullying that we both endured, throughout our school years. But we were both isolated, from the class and from each other, by the very hierarchy that bound us in place.

 He was a chubby kid, with blonde hair, crooked teeth, and dark circles under his eyes. Especially as we got older, his clothing suited an office more than a classroom. He'd come to school in pointy-toed dress shoes, a v-neck sweater and a collared shirt. Polyester pants. Ask me how easy it was for bigger kids to actually find decent clothes that fit in the late 70's and early 80's and I'll point you straight to the racks of elastic-waisted polyester pants that every department store displays for the sole purpose of keeping older men and women clothed with dignity. My younger  brother's only memory of this person was the day he came to school with a godawful perm...

If he was forced, by virtue of elimination, to choose me as a class partner, or to join my team for basketball, he would make the same noises of derision as the other boys. He would laugh about my weight, tease me for my clumsiness, roll his eyes when I walked by.

I was no kinder to him. He came to school with a "Forman Tank" sweatshirt on once, and I laughed at him for days. I didn't want to stand near him in line. I was terrified that people might think we were friends, and went out of my way to avoid him. It's funny how my childhood mind couldn't comprehend that he was human, and suffering, just as I was. Maybe I needed, in some way, to feel superior. Maybe he did, too.

It was easier to avoid him in high school. We didn't have many classes together, but always had the same, alphabetically arranged homeroom. We both took comfort in our back seats in the classroom, knowing that seeing what was going on, and being in back, could prevent the spitballs from being blown our way, or at least help us to avoid them. I used my hair as a shield, pulling it down over my face when I didn't want to be noticed. He used his smile in the same way - never failing to grin in the face of adversity, even when he was openly rejected and teased during class time.  By our classmates. And by the teachers. We were constantly reminded that we did not belong.

The last time I saw him, really, the only time I saw him outside of high school and the occasional glimpse in church, was one day in the library. I was looking for books, and he was working for the local Community Living organization. He had brought a developmentally-delayed client, new to town, in for the monthly Welcome Wagon meet and greet. We exchanged pleasantries, I think. It was ironic that both of us had chosen community-service related careers at that point in our lives, as though we could ensure the safety and well-being of other people in a way that never happened to us.

I never spoke to him again. That was seventeen years ago. So why does his death matter to me?

The thing is, I wanted to know...was he happy? Did he accomplish what he wanted to during his lifetime? Was he able to find love of some kind in spite of the hatred he endured at the hands of his peers. I know how long it took me to recover, I know that I still shake with fear when I have to do certain things - like drive by my old high school. How was it for him?

I asked my family. No one seemed to know what happened to him.

It matters because his death forced me to look at my own mortality. I know I haven't accomplished everything I want to do in this lifetime. I'm not even close. My gifts are lying dormant in the back of my closet, gathering dust as I eschew writing for late-night facebook viewings and mindless television. I don't even spend a lot of time with those pursuits - being a parent and holding a full-time job takes up most of my time. But what could I do, really, if I put my energy into more positive and productive things.

I need to work harder. Hard sounds like such a negative term - because writing is hard for me, and it pulls me into spaces that I would rather avoid on some days. But it also comes easily, effortlessly, when I take the time, when I discipline myself to produce something - whether it be legible or not - every day. I have the desire (see previous post). Now all I need to do is refocus my energy and gain some discipline.

When I got home from my parents' on Sunday night, I googled my former classmate. While I am sure that I can be easily found on the internet, he was largely absent. But I did find a trace - his resume, posted online at some point. So far, his only cyber-imprint. He went to university. He got his TESOL and got the hell out of Dodge. He traveled halfway across the world to teach English, and spent the last ten years of his life in a different country. Hopefully, he found the happiness that eluded him in our strange, broken little town.

I remember. And I honour the person that he was, and the person he became.

Monday, November 15, 2010


...inspired by this post....

Desire is the singer/songwriter on stage. The words and music emanating from her, the soul that shines through her music. Her presence and influence in my life. The friendship and closeness that I imagine, and sometimes achieve. A knowing glance, a shared understanding. Perhaps a shared stage - if I desire it.

Desire is my girlfriend. Her hands on my body. My fingers running through her hair. Watching her transform with a smile. Laughter welling up in almost every moment. Waking up beside her. Knowing.

Desire is the stranger with the firm body, slim-hipped and small-breasted. Desire sometimes wears a button-down shirt that's slightly open at the collar, and catches my breath as she moves cat-like and graceful past my table. Short hair, long slender fingers. I no longer need to imagine what she might do with them.

Desire is the pull of music in my life. It is my instrument alive beneath my fingers, the chording, learning and relearning fingerstyle. It is my voice, somewhat raspy from my recent cold, yet still able to project across a room. Desire is pitch and rhythm, knowing the nuances of song and singer, being music, becoming the performance.

Desire is a tiny little house made out of a cardboard box that sits on a child's dresser. There is a note inviting the fairies to come and live there, and various food offerings left hopefully by the thumb-sized open door.

Desire is seven years old and sleeping peacefully beside me, tucking her feet carefully beneath me, inching closer and closer as the night passes, face flushed rosy, and blonde hair spread across her pillow.

Desire is more than words on a page. Desire is the ache to form letters one after another, the pull of words upon words in an act of shattering creation. Desire leads me from darkness to light. Desire forms my intentions, gets me up in the morning: ready, anxious, compelled to create. Words, more words, music and more music. The desire to create, to make each day new is my longing. Live this life this moment in fullness, rather than the next one. Make it whole and use every part of it - body open, aware, sensual, mind engaged, fingers in tactile pursuit of just the right word to end the final sentence.

Desire is not the absence of fear. Desire is the call to action in spite of fear. Desire puts fear into perspective. Fear is the ego voice, making me smaller, less significant, the shadow self who roamed formless for far too long, until she began to shape herself. I will experience fear, and I will allow desire to draw me deeper into myself, the world around me, and my creations.

I can reach. I will grasp. I will succeed and I will not fear the achievement. Desire. Not the end result, but the ache that propels me forward, the momentum towards an experience greater than myself.

Desire is a child with red ribbons on a crowded subway.
Desire is ink-stained fingers and a fresh page.
Desire is a wisp of smoke above a snow-covered meadow.

And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without.
For behold, I have been with you from the beginning, and I am That which is attained at the end of desire.  (Doreen Valiente as adapted by Starhawk)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Monday, October 11, 2010

national coming out day

I posted my story last year. Here's a link if you would like a refresher, or if you haven't read it yet.

Ironically, my youngest and I were talking about coming out this evening, while she bathed and I washed her hair. I am out to everyone, except for most of the people I work with. Small center, small staff of seven people, and I'm just not sure that my supervisor would get it - I think that my co-workers would be accepting. But I haven't yet taken the risk, and I'm not sure when - or if- I will. I may be able to find work in the public school system next fall, and they all have strong anti-discrimination policies.

Last year, only my parents and my sister, of all my family members, knew that I was a lesbian. Last year I was a lesbian without a partner - which made things a wee bit safer. Thanks to national coming out day, my facebook status and the link I posted to my blog, most of my extended family and a few of my unaware friends learned a bit more about me. And my girl has met my family a few times now. I lost facebook friends, and it hurt for a bit. But then I realized that if they can't accept me for who I am, then I'm really not interested in sharing my life with them anyways.

happy days to all of you

Sunday, October 10, 2010

canadian thanksgiving

Americans celebrate at the end of November, but in our cold, northern climate, our harvest celebration has to be held a wee bit early. So this is the weekend...I've been cooking up a storm, and I'm not even hosting a dinner. There's something about this time of year that draws me into the kitchen...the sights and smells of my local market, the thought of all that lovely food simmering on the stove. Yesterday I baked bread (which is something I love to do) and roasted a beautiful organic chicken. The weather here is beautiful - sunny and warm, and the leaves are at their peak of colourful beauty.I would post a picture, but I have no camera - it's the one thing I lost when my bag was stolen that I haven't been able to replace. I miss it :(

My girl is sitting across the table from me with her laptop up - it feels so good to be sitting with her in these morning hours, working and surfing away. In a few moments we will pack up and head over to my parents' place for Thanksgiving dinner...she's still getting used to the informality of our gatherings. M was thrilled to learn that she could wear a Pink Floyd t-shirt to a family dinner...what I didn't tell her was that I almost wore mine (she bought it for me two weeks ago) and then changed my mind. Both of us showing up for a family dinner in matching t-shirts would be a little...much.

I am so thankful today, for many things. For the shelter and healthy food that I often take for granted. For my amazing family. For work that I love. For two beautiful children who are both going to make a difference in this world. For my gifts. And for my girl. Whether or not you are celebrating today, I hope your day is as full of sunshine and love as mine.

Friday, October 8, 2010


It’s my third anniversary today.

I’m not married. This is not my coming out story. This is a story about my lifelong struggle with weight. I was a chubby kid, a chubby young adult, and severely obese after I turned 35. This is not a story about failure, or lack of willpower, or laziness.

Lazy people don't get college diplomas while raising strong-willed toddlers on their own. Lazy people don't work full time. Lazy people don't go back to university at the age of 35 to get a degree because they never had the chance when they were younger.

So many people equate excess weight with laziness, failure, and lack. But most of the time, weight gain happens because of metabolism, genetics, and emotional dependence. People that are more than 100 pounds overweight have a lot of difficulty losing the weight, for a number of reasons. Metabolism works against them.  Exercise is sweaty and uncomfortable, and you can't do enough to make a difference. Some people are able to overcome the odds and lose the weight through diet and exercise alone.

I was not one of those people. Diets didn't work, even if I adhered to them faithfully. Going to the gym turned me into a sweaty, breathless mess after 10 minutes. I felt horrible about myself, and I was slowly losing control of my health...by June of 2007 it was just a few little warning signs. I had slightly elevated cholesterol, High blood pressure, knees that ached when I climbed the stairs...those were the physical symptoms. What I never talked about was the depression and unhappiness I felt all the time.  My dependence on food was depression-driven, was sending me into an early grave with a waistline that successfully hid the real me from the rest of the world. Food is addictive, as I discovered after surgery, when I had lost my seemingly harmless crutch. It makes you feel good, and it alters your brain chemistry without affecting your ability to drive a car, or function at work.

I made a decision. On October 5, 2007, I had weight-loss surgery in Las Vegas. I wish I could remember more of my Vegas vacation – the kids had fun. After my 24 hour stay in the hospital I didn’t feel like doing very much other than watching television. I couldn’t eat to stave off boredom anymore, and never will again.

I've lost 130 pounds over two years. I look and feel completely different than I did two years ago. My chronic pain is gone. I've gone from a size 26-28 to a size 14. 

I didn’t have surgery to look better. But I do.  And now that the shock of looking in the mirror and seeing a complete stranger has passed, I like what I see. It was tough at first.  Why, suddenly, were people talking to me, on bus and in line at the grocery store?  And why wasn’t I worthy of similar treatment before my surgery? After all, I was the same person underneath, just more …exposed. I simultaneously treasured and abhorred the invisibility that obesity offered. If I no longer had my weight to hide behind, how would I cope?  Why didn’t I enjoy sex any more after surgery than I did before?

Weight loss surgery changed more than my weight. It was a catalyst that forced me to confront issues that I had never dealt with. It forced me from my place of safety and out into the world, where I finally realized that my problems with sex were not a lack of drive, but a lack of desire for men.  The surgery transformed my body and my life in ways that I couldn’t have anticipated three years ago, when I checked into hospital for a now-routine, laparoscopic procedure.

It's not a choice everyone would or should make.  But I credit that decision with the happiness that I have today. I am living a completely different life than I expected – apart from the partner who supported me through the process.  I came out as a lesbian within months of the surgery.  I am comfortable in my body for the first time in my life.

 And I wouldn't change a thing...

Monday, October 4, 2010

this inquiring mind wants to know

Many of you already know that I was bullied as a child and a teen. Some of you witnessed it. Some of you experienced bullying alongside me. Those of you who have only met me in this space may have read my stories, or other blog posts about my experiences as a child. The thing is, I am not finished writing about them. I may never be finished...those memories still permeate almost every story I write, in one way or another. They creep into my consciousness when I least expect it. They shaped me, in both positive and negative ways, into who I am today.

Like most people, I am appalled by the recent rash of bullying-related suicides. We live in a society that permits children to hate, that condones violence and name-calling because someone is different in some way. But I am guessing that many of my readers, for a variety of reasons, were also bullied as children. I think that even those who were identified as bullies were bullied in some way, by other groups of people, by family members, by the system itself. If this experience is so common, why is it perpetuated, generation after generation? Why is it somehow codified into our education system as "rites of passage" or "hazing" or "initiation" or "freedom of expression" when the very act of singling out an individual or group because they do not conform to an arbitrary standard causes known and lasting damage? Can cause children, who should be safe and accepted for who they are to take their own lives?

Today I want to hear from my readers. What are your stories? Were you bullied as a child? Did it, indeed, get better? I want to start a conversation, and see where it takes us. I allow anonymous comments, so if you are too shy to identify yourself, please leave a comment anyways. But be warned: bullying will not be tolerated in this space.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

why am I here?

This is not an esoteric question.

Here I am, sitting in front of the computer on a Friday night. It's late, I'm exhausted, my throat hurts and I really should be in bed.

My girl is in Toronto.My child is upstairs asleep, at last. The dog is sleeping somewhere in the house, because the crazy cat has given up on chasing him around, for the moment.

I had a reiki session today. I was reminded at the time that the resilient willow has branches that bend and break against strong force, but it is always putting out little shoots of life and beginning anew. On the other hand, an oak tree is strong and sturdy, but when it meets a force greater than itself, it breaks, and does not renew itself so easily. Yielding myself to the situation may be difficult, but I need to remember my resiliency and know that no matter the outcome, I can survive and begin again.

Nothing negative is happening in my life right now. But I've been plagued with doubt....doubts about my own feelings, my own self-worth, and my sense of place. I've come a long way, but I'm still not as open, as open to love as I should be.

I am loved - so deeply that it scares me. What if I can't reciprocate? What if something goes wrong? What if I discover, after all, that she's not the one. I feel like I'm inviting negativity back into my life, that once I speak my fears that I will manifest them. And it's all because I don't want to be broken, and at the same time, I don't want to break anyone else. I forget that I am not the only willow on the riverbank. In fact, the tiny creek beside my house is blessed with dozens of willows, because they are so fruitful, and resilient. Maybe she's a willow, too.

I waited up tonight to get her text message. it's Yom Kippur and my love is away until tomorrow night (partly because she is Jewish and partly because she scored 17th row floor-seat tickets to see The Wall in Toronto on \saturday....I'm not jelaous at all). And I had tears in my eyes when I came home to discover that she had done the dishes, and cleaned the house before she left. Even though she has her own house, and her own domestic things to do. I've been battling some kind of virus since yesterday, and she knows how tired I am.

Here's the thing: two years ago I left an unhappy relationship - I came out as a lesbian, and I became aware of the cost of dependency. The equity in the house was smaller than our debt. I had no job, no income, and no money of my own. I had to begin again - job, housing, car, and coming out to friends and family all at the same time. I can't be dependent in that way ever again. But sometimes I get confused. Dependency is not the same as yielding - allowing myself to receive. I have always taken care of people. It's my job, it's a big part of who I am. And while I was financially cared for in my last relationship, emotionally I was set adrift and left to fend for myself. I was isolated from my friends,and family, and many of the things I loved.

I can't go back there. I'm so hyper-vigilant about remaining independent that I'm poised to refuse all decent offers of help, love and support because I want to make it on my own. This is not a good thing, because I don't want to be alone (well, not all the time, although my solitude is still a precious thing). In order to be a partner - a good one - I have to surrender, allow myself to receive, and remind myself that I am, indeed, worthy of all these amazing things that are filling my life. Truly.

Amy over at Making Space and I have been trading  Ivan Coyote links. It came to my attention yesterday that she and Kate Reid are planning some kind of collaboration. I can't wait - Kate's in SW Ontario this week and I'm heading out to see her tomorrow night. So, in the spirit of joint ventures, I bring you both amazing talents on the same blog page.

One of the things that I love about her is how her landscapes infuse her writing.

This is one of my favourites....hope you like it....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

can't get enough

of Ivan Coyote.

Watch...and listen

Yesterday I found out that she will be performing in my teeny-tiny hometown in November.

Guess who will be there!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

wondering where I've been?

The end is in sight. The end of summer. The end of day trips and music festivals, healthy brown skin, kids playing on the grass in front of my unit, crickets everywhere, sleeping with the window open. It's been a wild and crazy summer, one of the best I've had since I was a kid. You might have noticed - I took a brief, unplanned hiatus from writing of any kind. No blogging, no journals, no stories or poems, and there were days that it was difficult to update my Facebook status. This time, I wasn't depressed, or anxious, or bogged down in worry of any kind. I was out there having fun, and at the same time, fully becoming aware of all the changes that have taken place since April, and all the wonderful things still to come.

Just call me Pollyanna. It's close enough to my given name that I will answer.

Here's a not-so-brief recap. I think my last post was about my birthday, introducing my girl to the family, and preparing for fest. Six weeks ago, or somewhere thereabouts.

Melyssa and I went to Fest - the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - which was amazing. A whole week together, and we even put up the big-ass tent together without once disagreeing....even though it was almost dark and we'd been cooped up in the car all day long. Emily fared almost as well - she is just not a car kid, but I was so happy that she made the trip without much fussing. Musical highlights - The Indigo Girls! Ferron! Bitch! Holly Near! I discovered some new favourites - right now I can't get enough of Mary Gauthier and her new CD "The Foundling." Emily hung out in Gaia girls most of the time, because she didn't ever want to leave - her caregivers rocked, by the way - and I had time during the day to be alone, think, write and dream.

Yeah, I know I said that I'd taken a hiatus from writing....

I met some wonderful new friends, and had a chance to reconnect with people that I'd met last year. Going to fest with someone was a completely new experience, it felt so much better for me. There was someone to hold me when I cried (yes, I did...feeling safe brings a lot of shit to the surface). I had good company for every concert. Excellent company. The best.

We spent the week blissfully unaware of the outside world, and were feeling safe and supported by one another and our new community when we came home - Monday morning we unloaded the car, and took the camping topper off the roof. I set my bag down to grab the topper (a black canvas bag that I'd bought at fest and stuffed with everything - wallet, passports, camera, phone, ipod) and went inside. Momentarily lost track of the bag - it was in front of my co-op housing unit and I usually feel pretty safe there. Melyssa left because she had a class to teach that afternoon. When I'd rooted through the dozen or so black canvas bags in the house and realized that my bag was still outside (this is Ontario, land of the re-usable shopping bags, and I think there are about 20 bags, all tolled, in my house at any given moment)...I went out to look for it and discovered it was gone. Of course. With everything inside it.

So I lost everything. US dollars, credit cards, bank cards, camera, passports...I had the passports and other ID replaced within 72 hours. That was the easy part. The hard part was realizing that all of our fest photos were on the camera that I lost - all kinds of video of the Indigo Girls, pictures of Emily in the Gaia parade, of friends that we had met...

and I lost my notebooks. The full one and the one I had started at Fest. Six months of writing down the tubes (or very likely, tossed in a dumpster along with anything else that the thief considered garbage). Six months...bits of poetry that I'd wanted to transcribe and save, story ideas, journal entries. The poem that I'd written at Fest that I was going to revise and share at Ferron's open mike the next weekend....it was somewhat devastating.

Okay, it was traumatic. Someone else might have held my notebook, read my words, and probably thought they were so useless that they dumped them. Meanwhile, I struggled with their loss. And had to deal with my own anger - at myself for being so careless. For not recognizing the value of what was held between two spiral-bound covers.

The next weekend Melyssa and I actually made it back to Michigan. This time for FenFest. Wow. Just wow. Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I met Ferron at one of her writing workshops two years ago, and I have been to all three FenFests. They keep growing - in both audience numbers and in performer quality. This year: Bitch, Nervous But Excited, Susan Morris, Tret Fure, Holly Near (Yes!) Emma's Revolution, Bob Vance (an incredible poet) and Ferron herself. Since Ferron has limited her performance schedule it's one of the few places that you can actually hear her perform - and what a way to hear her - outdoors, in her back yard with the crickets singing along. It is one of the most intimate musical experiences that I have ever had - first of all, sitting ten feet away from the stage, and second of all, being able to access these amazing musicians as they wandered the land, and sat at the campfire post-performance.

You know, I actually did work this summer. And loved every minute of it! I went home from FenFest, worked for a week and went back to Michigan for another week. Really. We met up with a friend that we met at Fest who works in a nature preschool - my goddess, if I didn't have family and health care in ontario I'd be scheming for ways to get my green card - that preschool was one of the most amazing early childhood sites I have ever visited.

I love my job. Love it. So now I want to move the preschool to Ontario. Or at least try to find ways to incorporate more of their principles into my program.

Then Melyssa and I went back to the Fen. No FenFest or writers' workshop this time. Just the two of us doing our quiet thing. Walking the land, talking. Playing Scrabble (she kicked my ass) and Trivial Pursuit (I kicked her ass) at night, when we weren't out looking at the stars. I followed the boardwalk down to the river once, twice, three times a day with my notebook in hand.

And I wrote. It was hard at first - writing takes the discipline of daily practice, and that's what I had dropped first. So hard to make those words sing when you are just not used to moving the pen across the page...but with each visit to the notebook it got a wee bit easier. And then, on the day before we left, I felt that creative urge resurface, and it all came back to me. That I write and write well. That I love writing. That I must write, always, every day, and make it my calling.

And we had time for a little visit with Ferron....

and we are going back before winter. There's so much to do at home - we are both gearing up for a new school year (in very different ways), the tomatoes are ripe and asking to be picked and canned, I have a ton of projects to finish at home. But I need that creative jump start every once in a while and I am going to take advantage of it - I love the land at the fen, the energy of that beautiful house in the trees. It's like my other home. But in the meantime, I will keep the words flowing.

Expect to see me here more often, now that my crazy summer is drawing to a close. I promise.

Did I mention I'm going camping next weekend?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

vacation vacation

I'm off to Michfest.

Some of you might remember my trip to Michfest last year. This time it's different.

I'm bringing The Girl. And my six year old.

The summer is flying by. I've been so busy. I've also been struggling with a serious case of writer's block. Hopefully I can break out of it soon and be back to regular blogging.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

someone please tell me

What was I so afraid of?

My 45th birthday has come and gone. Okay, well it's not quite gone because the mystery weekend starts Friday. But my actual, official birthday is over.

I decided a few weeks ago that if I had a family birthday party, that the girl would be there with me - if she wanted to be there. My superficial reasoning was that if I couldn't invite my girlfriend to the party, then I didn't want to be there. But the logic behind my desire is deeper.

You see, for the past two years my family and I have drifted apart. This was my choice - not so much because I want to distance myself from their beliefs or behaviours,  but because I realized that they were only seeing the smallest part of me, the me they knew 10, 15, 20 years ago. The person who couldn't cook, the person who wandered cluelessly through relationships because she didn't know who she was. They were seeing the old me, because that's all I was revealing of myself. The hardest transition to make was to be open in front of my family. I'm still working on it...it will be much easier to be open at work, especially now that I've shoved the door aside, with creaking hinges and all. But my family - I chose to keep my real authentic life away from them - the life I treasure, the life I gain the greatest pleasure from. I am a woman who loves another woman.

I reached an epiphany the other day, with the help of a good friend. Not only do I deserve to be open about my relationship, my family deserves it, too. They deserve to see who I really am, to know and love the person that I have become over the past two years. Because I am strong, artistic, talented, funny and wise. And sharing myself with anyone is a gift, for them and for me.

My sister ( I am out to my sister, and able to be completely open with her, she has shared almost every aspect of this journey with me, bless her) called my youngest brother and explained my dilemma - because I had hesitated about even setting a date for a family birthday. I wanted a party, I wanted my family to celebrate with me, but I also wanted my girlfriend there.

As far as he was concerned it was no problem. He and my parents share a duplex, and we could use the back yard, and my parents' house, which has central air. Or so he said - whatever doubts he had about inviting her were set aside in order to make me feel more comfortable.

Still, I was oh-so-nervous. So was the girl. How would they react when they actually saw us together?

I arrived late, because I do that. And discovered that in addition to my family (minus parents, who are off on a retirement travelling adventure) my best friend from high school (whom I was not out to) and assorted, non-related kids were also there. Increase of nervousness...

I introduced her. We were all casually polite with one another as the awkwardness seeped in. We went inside to eat lunch, because it was too hot out...and I made a point of sitting beside the girl. Because she's my girl. And because there she was, in a sea of family members, including my middle brother - have I mentioned that my little brother is one year away from ordination as a catholic priest? So things went along swimmingly, if rather awkwardly...

until my sister in law accidentally threw a grape at my bff from high school. Being the mature, reasonable adults that we are, we proceeded to have a food fight.

A small one - but see what happens when your parents are away? All hell breaks loose. The last time we had a party when my parents were on vacation, we were much younger, and there was a lot more alcohol involved, but still, a food fight?

It broke the ice. She was a lot more comfortable after that, seeing that my family was a bit kooky and sort of fun. Sort of the kind of people you'd want to have around...they have accepted anyone I've introduced with open arms up until now, but I was so afraid it would be different this time. It wasn't.

A while later, my oldest brother reminded me that his birthday bash (annual big party) was coming up - his birthday is just after the Girl's, and I looked at her in confusion - I wanted to go, but I want time with her, and our summer is so busy...My SIL looked at her and said "You are coming too, aren't you?" I said "Well, her birthday is two days before" and she replied "That's fine, we can add her name to the cake."

There you go.

All that angst for nothing. I have given them lots of time to get used to things - and maybe they're not so sure about what's happening with me, but I know one thing. We are still family, and we are as tight as we used to be.

Just one question remains...do I look 45 to you? I feel like I'm about 29.

Me and the Girl at Toronto Pride.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Our Big Gayborhood - July post

You can read it here.

I have a lot to write about but less time than I would like. Between work, witchcamp, tantruming children and having a girl to spend time with, I am not here as much as I should be. But I will be back! I have photos of Toronto Pride to post! It was awesome! See you soon!

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Seriously folks... I'm being tortured....

I love surprises. The Girl knows that I love surprises.

She's planned something for my birthday. But she won't tell me what it is...

I have the following information at my disposal:
- I will be away from home for at least one and possibly two nights, so I need to pack a bag.
-I need to pack something nice to wear (being the emerging femme that I am, I plan on bringing something completely sexy so that I can torture her as much as she's tortured me). I'm sure she's okay with that.
-I may or may not need a passport but I should bring one just in case. (I live about 2 hours from the US border)
-I have three more weeks to wait until I find out what's happening. I love surprises, but suspense drives me completely and totally up the wall.

So, gentle readers, how do I get through the next three weeks without driving myself crazy?

(It's a good thing that life is busy right now - Toronto pride next week, family birthday the week after, so I have many things to occupy me while I slowly go insane).

I'm off to Wild Ginger Witchcamp this weekend. Hope you all have an amazing time, whatever you do.

PS I can`t even begin to tell you how absolutely wonderful life is right now.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Honor the Earth

The Indigo Girls, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers, co-founded Honor the Earth with Winona LaDuke. For the past few days, the Indigo Girls have been in Montana touring and promoting the amazing work that Honor the Earth is doing in aboriginal communities.

Amy's been keeping a diary. You can read it here.

She is a powerful writer with a poignant message. This is the sentence that grabbed me: We owe it to the earth, to ourselves, and to Native communities to do the work to support and to heal the eco-system and the human family.

I've been thinking about it all day. Outside in the sun and wind with the kids, watching them catch bugs, and roll in the grass. They are so eager to learn whatever they can about the world around them. I've been sent home with assignments, all from playground observations - to identify bugs we found, to confirm that a bush in the corner of our lot really has edible berries...you'd think that I was the student. And in fact, they teach me as much as I teach them.

Whenever I think about the oil spill in the Gulf, my heart breaks. The more I read, the sadder I become. It appears that the spill is still largely uncontained, and looks to be much bigger than many politicians and BP officials are letting on. All that destruction, for the sake of satisfying worldwide greed and dependence on fossil fuels.

It's almost too big to comprehend. And while it may be easy for us to fool ourselves into thinking that this is not our problem, and really there's nothing we can do, we will all feel the impact of this disaster and others in the years to come. But we can all make a difference, just by changing a few simple things in our lives and in our lifestyles. Because if we don't reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, the natural environment will be slowly destroyed. Oil in the Gulf. Drilling in environmentally sensitive natural areas. Mountaintop removal coal mining. Tar sands operations that waste and contaminate soil and water.

Amy wrote:
Let me just say, it starts with something so easy, we just don’t believe it could make a difference - conservation. Conservation is the beginning and it’s something we can all start doing today. Educate yourselves on where your energy comes from and at whose expense. Grow some of your own food. Shop less. Drive less. Give money and support to the folks out there developing renewables. Find a way to use clean energy. Fight bad energy projects.

It is easy. And it can make a difference. Most of us have probably already made some changes in  our own lives, in order to use less fuel, to support viable alternatives, and to make this world a better place. Little changes can make a big impact.

Here are some of the things that I do, simple, little things that are small steps towards big change. Perhaps they will inspire you....it may also inspire you to know that my life, and my health have been vastly enriched by the changes I've made. Rather than suffering for the sake of my Mother earth, I am reveling in her abundance.

1. In spite of the fact that I am a city dweller, I grow a lot of my own food. I have a community garden plot, and I've devoted a fair amount of space in my back yard to gardening. This year  I'm growing tomatoes (and more tomatoes), peppers, zucchini, lettuce, onions, beans, eggpant, squash and melon. What I can't eat in season, I'll preserve. Last year I used my freezer, and this year I want to try canning. It's all new to me - while my grandmothers knew the secrets of preserving, they were unable to pass the knowledge on to me. There is nothing, absolutely nothing better than eating a tomato that was picked three minutes before it went in your mouth.

2. What I can't grow in season, I buy locally as much as I can. Buying food within a 100 mile radius ensures that the food is fresh, and that our dependence on fuel is reduced. My city has two excellent markets, and because I live in an agricultural area, I can often buy food at the farmgate. But even with markets, it's better to be careful...if the vendor can't tell you where the food was grown, even though it's advertised as local, chances are good that it's not as local as you would like. "Locally grown" has become a selling point that many are taking advantage of. I also try to buy organic as much as I can, as long as it's local. There's not much benefit in buying organic food if it's been transported three thousand miles by truck. I've found local sources for eggs, and the small amount of meat that I eat.

This year, I'm going to try and buy more local foods in bulk, to can and freeze for the winter months. Strawberries, and strawberry jam. Yum!

3 I have issues with the way animals are treated in commercial operations and slaughterhouses, but besides this, meat production is a huge waste of natural resources. It takes 2500 liters of water to produce a single pound of beef. I do eat meat, but most of the time I eat chicken that has been locally raised in humane conditions. Yes, it's a bit more expensive, but once you taste the difference....

4. I've reduced my consumption of commercially prepared, prepackaged foods. Simply put, I make it myself. No more cans of soup and Kraft Dinner. I bake my own bread, from organic flour, and my friends will tell you that I make the best cookies on the planet. It does take time. But even with a full-time job and a budding career as a writer (and a girlfriend, don't forget that I have a social life) I manage to make it work. I take one day and cook, and make what I need for a week or more. The food I make myself tastes better. And I know what's in it.

5. Reusable shopping bags. They are incredibly easy to find here. And I hate plastic packaging of any kind. Birthdays and kids' toys drive me crazy.

6. Composting keeps garbage out of the landfill and can keep your gardens rich in nutrients. I have a smallish composter in my nonexistent back yard. But even if you live in an apartment, you can compost, using a vermicomposter and worms. My city also has a municipal compost program.

7. In summer I dry all my clothes outside. In winter, I put my socks and underwear in the dryer.

8. I can't remember the last time I bought a new piece of clothing for myself. I always said that when I lost weight, I'd buy myself a whole new wardrobe. Well, I had to, since I lost 125 pounds. I think I bought myself a pair of new dress pants, at my daughter's insistence. But I find the most amazing things at local thrift shops, and I really don't need anything new. There is so much waste in the world (just wander to the toy section in a thrift shop and look at the junk that people accumulate and then throw away....). But there's a lot of good stuff out there. Just ask The Girl, who convinced herself that nothing from a thrift store would fit her. She was wrong. As a society we've convinced ourselves that buying stuff is good for the economy. Keep the money circulating...buy Canadian (or American as the case may be). But what are we actually accomplishing?

8. I live in an area that is central to almost everything. Sadly, I still need a car for work, but I can walk to the grocery store, and just about everywhere else, except for wal-mart. And I don't shop at wal-mart anyways. That being said, I think this is an area where I fall short.My drive to work is about fifteen minutes, that's okay. But my girlfriend lives in a city that's a two hour drive away. And I have a summer full of road trips ahead of me, which I don't want to give up.

9. I don't drink bottled water unless I absolutely have to. Like, if I'm stranded in the desert and I've forgotten my stainless steel water bottle. Plastic is a petroleum product and recycling doesn't completely right the wrong. I also try, really hard, to use a travel mug for my morning Tim's. What I really should do is give up my morning Tim's altogether and make my own coffee, but I'm not quite there, yet.

10. Educate. Our friends, our family, and most especially the children. 

This isn't an exhaustive list by any means. And there is more that I can do. The co-op I live in is looking into purchasing solar energy panels. The way it works here is that the government buys the energy you produce from solar panels, and deducts that money from your hydro bill. I would love to live off the grid someday - at least partially, but my dream home is a few years away, yet.

So, what do you do to conserve, to cut back on consumption? I'm sure that some of you have good ideas to share with me...

Friday, May 28, 2010

two years

I started blogging two years ago this week.

It's been a hell of a ride. Thank you all for sharing it with me.

This is not my swan song, nor is it a retrospective.

If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that if one thing happens in my life, that several things will follow in short order. It's been a calm and peaceful few months, and I've been grateful for that. But things are a-stirring again.

My new puppy was a bit too much dog for a small townhouse, so I found him a great adoptive home. Two days after he left me, I rescued a tiny kitten who was crying under the bushes outside my work(a day care center). Her name is Jake.  The kids at the day care wanted the same name as the day care and this was a compromise. She's a female ginger tabby - most ginger tabbies are male, which is why she ended up being called Jake. I refuse to change it. She'll be gender-neutral very soon anyways. And the name suits her - she's a combination of purr monster and little hellion.

Last weekend (Victoria Day weekend in Canada, fondly known as May 2-4), the girl and I took on a smallish project in the house and started painting the two rooms I hadn't painted before I moved in. The object, in part, was to create a better writing space for me, but also to give Emily a larger, brighter room. She's 6. Ergo, the room is pink. It took longer than we thought. We ran out of paint and couldn't get more because of the holiday. While the painting is done, my bedroom still holds the contents (considerable) of my office bookshelves and various paraphernalia that does not yet have a home.

 In the middle of our painting weekend, Emily decided that it was time to get the chicken pox. Trauma. And spots and itching, and sore throat and sleepless nights. I was reminded that shared custody does not always translate to shared responsibility, as the ex was adamant that he would not care for her during his oh-so-precious working hours. Apparently my working hours are less important. On the day in question, my oldest was taking a first aid course, and I was scheduled for my weekly ten-hour day. The ex was working at home that day. I ended up taking most of the day off- I was tired of arguing, and I want what`s best for Emily. The simple fact that she is sick and needs someone to look after her seemed to escape her father.

The day I was home with Emily was the day my grandmother passed away. She was almost 99. She had a long, full, and wonderful life. I am grateful to have shared so much time with her, but I am sad that she is gone.

My rooms are unfinished, my kid is still scratching, and there are sad funeral plans for this weekend. I was supposed to go to Michigan for Ferron`s birthday weekend - obviously that won`t be happening, and it`s okay. I`ll be at the Fen another time. Instead, I will be surrounded by family and rememberances.

And on Sunday The Girl is whisking me away for a little day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. It`s exactly what I need.


Monday, May 10, 2010

I hated it

I took The Girl for a drive on Saturday, to my hometown. I was dropping Emily at her grandparents' for a sleepover, and it was lovely to have her company. I've written a lot about my experiences as a kid. Before we moved to the town my parents now live in, I had a most awesome childhood. Three brothers, a bike, the run of my suburban neighbourhood, and the freedom of childhood.

It all changed when I moved. Small, closed community. A neighbourhood with few kids. We found things to do, of course, as kids do. We spent our summers wading in the river, or hiking along the river road. We spent our winters on the toboggan hills and at the rink. But until I was halfway through my teen years, my experience with my peers was mostly horrendous. I was ostracized and bullied - back then, hardly anyone new moved into town, and when they did, they were treated with disdain. The only people that mattered were people who had always lived there, who had parents and grandparents that grew up in the same insular community. I think that a lot of small towns are like this. Or they were, before technology made the world much smaller. When I go back now, I see a community that has doubled in size, that is rich and somewhat diverse. Even when I lived there as a young single mom, it was a more accepting place.

I try not to think about high school, really. Much of it is best forgotten anyways. Who wants to remember rotten lunches in their locker, or the french fries that got spit on when I went up to the counter for salt? Or the endless name calling that took place before, during and after school. When I turned sixteen, I stopped caring what people thought - I grew a tougher skin, and I started holding my head up a wee bit higher. But I couldn't get past it - it took me years to realize I was not the names they called me. I am not ugly, I am not stupid, I am not useless, I am not better off dead. I moved away from home and found people that could accept me - in spite of the massive social anxieties that I'd developed after years of being bullied.

I have a love/hate relationship with my hometown. It is a beautiful place. Most of my family lives there - my parents, my brothers and their wives, my nieces and nephews, some of my aunts and uncles. I feel simultaneously at home and alienated when I am there.

I wanted to show The Girl some of the places that I loved, the houses I lived in, the hills I sledded, the river that was my second home. So after dropping Emily off, we took a little tour. Through town and across the main street bridge, past the waterfalls. Over another bridge, where the limestone rock was flat enough that we could wade all the way across the river. Past the little white house that my parents bought when they first moved...a tiny two-bedroom house for four children and themselves. We turned around in the driveway of the prefab that they had built on the extra-large lot...ruining the best toboggan hill in the neighbourhood, I might add. And then we crossed town to the house I lived in as a teenager.

I had to drive by the high school to get there. Exactly the same as it always was, institutional red brick. Big field and running track at the side of the school. Parking lot devoid of cars and smokers, because it was Saturday. I glanced over my shoulder as we drove past, and I said "There's my high school. I hated it."

And then it hit me. I hated it. I really did - not in the casual way that people hate sauerkraut or math class. I hated it with a visceral, physiological hatred that I could feel in my body. I said it over and over again.

I hated it.
I hated it.
I hated it. I hated it.

The Girl was so amazing. She made me stop the car, and she rubbed my back and held me while I cried. I thought I was over it, I thought that I could go back there and face the memories with the barrier of time between myself and the rawness of my pain. I guess not.

I don't hate the people that went to school with me. Or the misguided teachers that perpetuated the bullying. Or the town. I don't even hate the building that houses so many memories. But the experience? My fear? My self-loathing? My belief that I was not worthy, never good enough to have friends, to date, to experience the things that other kids were able to do - you know, dances, house parties, hanging out on the street corner? I can hate that.

When I changed my relationship status on my facebook, one of my high school friends was very excited, because now I would have a date for Homecoming (think about a high school reunion for an entire town...that's homecoming). I know there's a reunion of some kind. On one hand, I'd really like to show up and show them what success looks like. On the other hand, I don't want to remember, and I'm terribly afraid that I'll spend the entire reunion walking up to the people that caused so much pain and telling them exactly what I think of the way they treated me. Because you know I'll do just that.

It's ironic that such a beautiful place can hold so much sadness.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I should be

-walking the dogs
-writing something substantial
-cleaning the house
-thinking about serious, important issues (actually, I am...oil slicks and floods, and a Canadian government that refuses to provide funding for abortion even though it has touted maternal/child health as being oh-so-important)
-taking that darn bone away from the dog because his chewing drives me crazy. He farts, too...anyone want a dog?
-standing still underneath the maple tree outside my office and just breathing in the energy of spring
-saving money for all the places I want to go this summer
-behaving as a mature adult with responsibilities - well, I do....except

that I'm completely and totally distracted. Who knew dating could be this much fun?

And more. She is an amazing person with a beautiful heart. I like her a lot.

I am so gushy. Is this better than angst-ridden introspection? Depressive phrases that chase each other around and around the page? Happiness...and inspiration. Who knew?

I think I'd better give her a name. In an unabashed absence of creativity, I shall call her "The Girl." She reads the blog. In fact, she went back to the beginning and read each and every post because she wanted to understand me better. How cool is that? At this point, she doesn't write her own blog - being far too busy with things like work...and hockey (no, I'm not a hockey fan, but if she can survive my Amy Ray obsession, I can survive hockey)...and spending time with me...but who knows?

There's a robin singing in the tree outside my window. The sky is the indigo of early darkness, and the light of the setting sun is reflecting off the buildings across town. I need to go spend some time with mother earth before I get completely lost in my own words.

All I can wish is that everyone is feeling the same sense of joy and wonder that I am in this moment.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I promised

I did, many months ago that my blogger pals would be the first to know...


I had a date.

It went very well.

We've been talking a lot.

We're seeing each other again tomorrow.

Life is really, amazingly good right now. Have I mentioned that lately?

I'm sorry I haven't posted much, I've been  distracted.

I will get back to regular blogging soon.

Because I have a lot to say.

Life is happening.

Good stuff!

Okay that was a bit more cryptic than some of you were hoping for, I'm sure. I wrote an essay that will explain a lot of my processes. Let me just say this - for the first time in my life, ever, I am awake to the beautiful person that I have become. Those of you who have followed me for a long time know that the weight loss did not bring improved self-esteem right away. Self-love and self-acceptance were milestones that were incredibly difficult for me to reach. I've grown a lot in the past few months, I've left a lot of negativity behind. My health is improving. I am so incredibly grateful for all the blessings I have right now.

I wish I was writing more. I think this is a temporary "basking in the glow" kind of writing break. I journal every day. I have an essay all ready for my next OBG post. But I want more fiction in my life, more words, more time to spend just writing and nothing else. I know I have to make that time. And I will.

I hope that all of you, every one of you, can find a moment of happiness today. I've had many. I am truly blessed.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Saturday, April 17, 2010


This week has gone by too quickly  - for both good and bad reasons.

A dear friend lost her 21 year old son. It was unexpected and as yet unexplained. My heart aches for her.

I've been chatting with a woman that I like. I haven't met her yet.

I formed an excellent connection at the Fen (have you read about The Fen yet?). I'm enjoying that connection as well. Who knows where it will go?

Speaking of the Fen, yours truly humbly submits that she was cited in Wikipedia! I feel like I've suddenly hit the big time.

But I need to start writing under my given name, rather than my blogger handle.

I've been doing a lot of thinking and not a lot of writing. My style has changed since coming out, and some of my work really doesn't reflect that change. When I freewrite these amazing words seem to come out of nowhere, and my older prose simply doesn't measure up. So I've stopped revising my old stuff. I'm getting bored. And I want to concentrate on new work.

That being said, a new connection had some wonderful things to say about a short story I shared with her, and I value her opinion highly.

I've turned a corner with regards to my self-image. I need to devote a whole blog post to that little rennaisance. All of you, especially those who have followed me since the journey began, know how I've struggled with my appearance...for no apparent reason, except there's a disconnect between my body and my brain. Things have...evolved. Part of that is the validation of knowing that other people really do find me attractive - not just people who read my dating profile, but people who meet me in real life. It's very satisfying, but it really is a positive mental shift for me.

Along with that, I've spent some time thinking about the kind of relationship I want right now. And I have a much better notion of my goals for dating and relationships. This is good - visualizing the future requires me to have some sense of what I want to accomplish, both short and long-term.

It's all good.

Except that my friend lost her son. Please send a few good thoughts her way.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

states of union

 I found this in my inbox this morning.....
Dear Camlin,

Lesbian photographer Alix Smith is among 1143 artists being considered for a whopping $250,000 grant from Pepsi. For the last two years, Smith has been working on an award winning photography project/social action campaign that addresses inequality in civil rights – specifically, in the rights afforded to gay and lesbian individuals. Through gesture, color scheme, background and lighting, the photographs that comprise States of Union are loosely based on classical paintings.  The goal of the project, which was exhibited at The Morgan Lehman Gallery in New York, and in Los Angeles at Manifest Equality, is to show LGBT youth - and indeed all Americans - that LGBT families, couples, and loves are no different than heterosexual ones and deserve the same love, support, and admiration.

Pepsi's "refresh everything" campaign seeks to reward "people, businesses, and non-profits with ideas that will have a positive impact" and will change their community. Smith believes that encouraging positive identify formation in gay and lesbian youth by exposing them to images of familial love that they can relate to is critical to changing all American communities for the better. 
States of Union has been compared to the AIDS Quilt in its power to have a profound emotional affect on those that see it. 

Voting for the winner of this grant began on April 1 and Smith's project has already moved from 215th place to 76th, but in order to win she must move to 1st place. Supporters may vote daily for this project online at 

* Alix Smith is available for interviews about the project, and we're happy to provide jpegs of her work if you'd like to post them.

IN THE LIFE is doing a segment on Alix Smith and States of Union.  It is the second story in the "Dismantling Hate" episode. You can see it online at: http://www.inthelifetv.org/html/watchitl.shtml 

To learn more about States of Union go to: www.statesofunion.com

Thanks for taking a look at this project and we hope you'll consider voting, passing the information to people you know or organizations you are apart of and we hope you'll consider posting about it!

Charlotte Edwards Hunt 

I went to the site and checked out her photography - what amazing work!  We need more positive public images of GBLT family life. Go Alix! I voted for her, and you can too!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


From Merriam-Webster's online dictionary:

Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin constant-, constans, from present participle of constare to stand firm, be consistent, from com- + stare to stand — more at stand
Date: 14th century
1 : marked by firm steadfast resolution or faithfulness : exhibiting constancy of mind or attachment

Constance is well named.

Most of us have read about Constance MacMillan's struggle for acceptance into her high-school prom. And I'm sure many of us heard the news today about the prom she did attend. If not, you can read about it here.http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2010/04/05/ACLU_Investigating_Fake_Prom/.

I am beyond appalled. Perhaps this is affecting me so deeply because of my own high school experiences. Nobody barred me from prom. Nobody set up a fake prom for me to go to - but I was bullied and ostracized when I was in high school. I was a pariah. I was different. Even I hadn't figured out why. 

What bothers me about Contsance's situation is the same thing that bothers me about my past. The kids involved were only a part of the picture. Sure, they were cruel. But they were kids. Their parents taught them how to hate.  And their teachers. And the other adults in their world who told them and demonstrated to  them that it's not okay to be different. That looking, speaking, or acting outside of the realm of what they considered to be "normal." is unacceptable. We don't want your kind around here.

Some of the kids who attended the real prom are out commenting on different news sites, and it makes me sad. They blame Constance, because she brought too much attention to their town, and their prom. The believe that she's making the situation public knowledge in order to gain attention for herself. It's her fault, they're all screaming. 

Well, she's not the bigot in this situation. And she's not the one who decided to deliberately ostracize not one, but several kids, because they are somehow not acceptable to the rest of the student body. And the students, the ones who are so vigorously defending their actions - they didn't act alone. Proms can't usually be organized without adult assistance. 

I am saddened by the story, and at the same time, I am so full of admiration for Constance. This beautiful young woman has something that I didn't have at her age:the courage and self-esteem to speak out against injustice.

I didn't go to prom. I spent the evening with friends. We had a fancy dinner - and did something else afterwards. I can't remember what, but there may have been some alcohol involved at some point. It doesn't matter - we knew that going to prom would only prolong our agony - that if we attempted the dance floor, someone would laugh at us, or make cat calls. I was terrified that someone was going to throw something at me - I was always finding rotten lunches in my locker, and there were a few incidents in the school cafeteria that I'd rather forget. I always said it didn't matter, and in the twenty-seven years since prom night, I've discovered that it really doesn't. We had fun. We didn't have to worry about dresses that fit, or whether or not we had dates, or what to do with ourselves during slow dances.

It's not the end of the world, missing prom. But I wish I could have been a bit more like Constance. I wish I'd been strong enough to advocate for myself, and for my friends, who were bullied as much as I was. 

But I do know a few things about what happened to some of the people who went to prom on the night I didn't go.

Many of them grew up, moved away, and learned that there's a big world out there, and that diversity is a good thing.

Some of them regretted the way they treated other people and changed their behaviour.

Some of them gained weight. And failed in their careers and their marriages just like many other people. They learned humility.

One of the boys in my class found out that when your parent breaks the law, your peers are not always kind to you.

Many of the girls became mothers, and the boys became fathers, before they left their teen years behind.

And sadly, some of them didn't change at all. And they are passing on their values to the next generation. The prom-goers of today. They gossip just as much as they ever did. They still make fun of their high school classmates, like it was yesterday. They live very, very small lives.

I am inspired by Constance's courage. So much so that I've made two decisions today. I'm going to that kiss-in on Saturday. So that I can stand up and be counted. So that I can lend support to my community. And so that I can demonstrate that I have the courage of my convictions - I've been worried, you see, that someone at work will see me, and ask questions. Well, let them ask!

And next July I'm going to my high school reunion. Well, not a reunion, really. It's a thing called Homecoming, where everyone who ever lived there is supposed to go back and celebrate the wonderfulness of small-town living.


The only thing is, I need a date....