Monday, November 24

Next Door Solutions

I had a terrible experience years ago that reminds me of how vulnerable and precious the lives of mothers and their children are, and, every day reminded even more of how strong mothers and their children are.

The Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is having a holiday boutique where children and mothers pick from donated gifts to give to each other for Christmas. You can get the full list of items on their wishlist is here:

Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence


Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 19

In a Flash

In a flash of light, life passes before me. Today was an exceptional day.

We woke this morning to happy booming children, footy pajamas, smiles. In a flash, the phone rang. @La Gringa's grandmother died in the night. Although not very close to her Grammy, the reminder of life and death came through the phone with my mother-in-law, stable, calm and sad. Mexican families mourn more outwardly.

By Noon, my son was in tears. A boy didn't want to be his friend. Why? Because. That's all. In a flurry, the rush of emotions came over my boy and the other sweet boy. Then, in a flash, the boys were playing again. Do boys rebound that quickly from pain? I took a few more hours to recover.

At 4 p.m., In a flash, I find out that a woman I know now sleeping in her car with her 5-year-old son. The economy, she says, did her in. She lost the room she was renting. They are *physically* cold. I have never been so embarrassed about having a big, warm home.

Before 9 p.m., I'd received an email about a boy that had died driving home from the *exact* soccer tournament my kids played in this weekend. I don't think there are even words for it. In a flash, a boy played soccer, then died. It could have been us. Oh, it could have been us so easily. You can help his family here:

I'm reminded again to live in the very moment. Life passes in a flash.

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, November 16

Sketchy at Best... My Letter to Secretary of State

Hello Secretary of State:

There is a question that has been strongly discussed in our community this week.

In short, without bias:

1. The Baptist Church of Willow Glen (in San Jose) has been vocal and strong advocates of pro-Prop 8. That is the church's prerogative, of course.

2.However, this same church was an official POLLING LOCATION for the county.

3. This weekend, the church, which donated funds to the Yes on Prop 8 initiative, gave a strong sermon on why Prop 8 should be upheld. (and lectured on the benefits of opposing same-sex-marriage).

My concern, and those of the community around us, is that the Willow Glen Baptist Church acts as a legal California voting location, yet financially and, more importantly, socially, strongly and verbally support Prop 8.

Although we do not allow demonstrators withing 100 feet, I believe, of a polling location, this church, Willow Glen Baptist Church, preaches strongly on political issues, then acts as a legal and official polling location for residents. I find this not only abhorrent, but unjust. And beyond unjust, it is frightening for those who are selected to vote at this location.

Thank you.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 12

Stolen Post from Let California Ring

I read this today on Let California Ring. I thought it was very well written.

10 Ways to Start Conversations About The Freedom To Marry

1. Think about it—what if you were told that you couldn't marry the person you loved? How would that make you feel, or change your relationship, your future plans and your life?

2. Two people in a committed, trusting and loving relationship deserve the dignity and support that come with marriage.

3. People can have different beliefs and still treat everyone fairly.

4. It is a joy to see my son/daughter and his/her partner together and a part of our family.

5. Discrimination is wrong no matter who it affects. We must work together to fight against discrimination, wherever it appears.

6. Tradition is important in our family. That’s why we’ve invited our son/daughter’s partner to be a part of our family traditions and celebrations.

7. It is not for me to judge other people. Just because I disapprove of something does not mean that it’s wrong.

8. Many couples stay together for years and not only face discrimination, but
many other challenges. In spite of these challenges, these couples remain courageous in the face of opposition and deeply committed to building happy lives together.

9. When gay and lesbian couples get married, they may finally be recognized as being part of the extended family.

10. Domestic partnerships don't provide the same security as marriage. They exclude people from marriage and create an unfair system that often does not work in emergency situations when people need it most.

...for the record, La Gringa and I have no plans to marry until the unions are federally recognized because only then does the tax break make sense for us (thank god for great CPAs who ran the numbers for us on the options of DP, marriage, single status). By the way, might we change our minds? Maybe. ;)

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 11

Sale? Hardly.

In the past week, I've gotten sale emails from JCrew (20% Off Sweaters!), Old Navy (50% Off Outerwear), Kohl's (50% Off Sweaters!) and Gap (30% Off Friends and Family). I tracked down of these discounts. Here's what I found:

1. JCrew: Two words: FUCK OFF. It doesn't help one single bit to charge an average of $150 for a wool sweater. Are you kidding me? We're not talking cashmere here. In looking through all of the sweaters on, I found not one thing we'd buy.

2. Old Navy: I went into the store, and sure enough, the coats are 50% off. On sale, they're running between $50-$85. That's pretty good. Unfortunately, there is no lining in the jackets at all, so La Gringa would look cute this week in New York, but freeze her ass off.

3. Kohl's: See, now, this one is probably more me than the store. Kohl's in fact, was advertising 50% off all sweaters. The problem is the fashion of the sweaters was from the FLDS catalog, made at the Zion Ranch by underage children!

4. Gap: The sale intel came out two days ago with a serious viral campaign, but when I went to the store today, turns out the campaign is for Thursday only. Ugh.

Then there's the true idiots. The biggest offenders right now? Travel & Leisure Magazine, Luxury, One & Only Resorts. Okay, so I know I've opted in for these folks, but are you kidding me? What economy are they tapping into? What planet are you on to market to me in such a stupid way?

1. Travel & Leisure: Boasting luxury getaways to India and Saudi Arabia this month, I poured over the mag trying to remember my travels in the days before a shithouse economy and life with children. But I couldn't get past it -- what was the editor thinking? What crack are you smoking? Where is my Hunkering Down Travel? Or Find Leisure on a Budget? Idiots. I actually threw the magazine away before finishing it.

2. Luxury Link: I've purchased from Luxury Link before. Sometimes you can even find a deal. But not now. They seem to have completely lost their perspective. Giving $50 off of a $15,000 week-long getaway is not a discount. Offering discounted upgrades? Only if you win a prepaid bid ranging from $2500 to $25,000 for a week. You better damn-well upgrade me at the cost, whacker.

3. One & Only: See now, you're talking about the holding company of my favorite place on earth. About five years ago, they took over for the little La Palmilla, making it a massive celebrity destination and completely destroying the small, quiet hideaway it had been for 40 years. Those bastards are currently offering a "discount" of 20% off for holiday travel -- that would make the cheapest room just over $750 per night. For the record, I paid $200 for the same room several years in a row.

So here's my advice to the luxury travel and retail providers;

1. Do one single thing at a discount. One. Sweaters. Jackets. Hotel room. Spa services. Whatever. Do one. And kill it. Bring the cost all the way down, waaaay down. Low enough to get us previously engaged users to reengage (those of you who know me will know I'm talking about the second or third quadrant of the P&G user).

2. Don't call it a discount if you're gonna be obscene. It's so offensive. Say, "Escape the Economy" and forget about your life for a few days. Don't tell me it's a discount. Don't tell me you understand. Change your verbiage to convince me that you are one of us. It's incredibly insulting to send me a discount that isn't one.

3. Work my loyalty (yes, the P&G third and fourth quadrants). Work me slowly, directly. Tell me you know me and my loyalty to your product, your resort. Work my preferences, mine your data. Get me to engage. And reengage.

It's gonna be a long couple of years. I'm going to need more from my email marketers. You all get an F. Go back and come back with something more engaging. I have a credit card, La Gringa needs sweaters. Come get my business the old fashioned way: earn it.

Bookmark and Share

Licking the Bowl

Licking the Bowl, originally uploaded by Thing Family.

Sunday, November 9

Five Lessons for Michelle Obama from the First Lady of Class -- My Mom

Dear Michelle,

I don't think there are words to describe how we feel about you being the next First Lady of the United States of America -- I can't imagine how you must feel.

I had a dream about you last night. In my dream, I was at my mom's house, and you were at the kitchen island having a glass of wine. My mom was laughing, you were laughing. Your girls were playing with Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the backyard. My parent's house, always warm and welcoming, was filled with more of the same. You were one of us.

I asked what you were doing there and you said you were getting advice from my mom. I nodded and walked out of the room. Of course you were getting advice from her, who wouldn't?

I woke up smiling. My mom has spend decades advising, guiding, leading top women in business and life. Her lessons have guided dozens of famous and near famous, powerful and influential people. Here are a few of my favorites:

1. There is always a storm. You will be looked to to be the calm that sees the cloudless sky off in the distance. However quietly, subtly, you must guide the ship in the right direction. Be the calm in the storm, mama always told me.

2. No one cares as much about anything you are or do as much as you do. So, the dramas of life are only what you let on. Don't bother feeding into drama. It's a waste of time.

3. Never curse. Never. It is simply not ladylike. Always be a lady.

4. Women are generally not truly liked by other women in business. In most ways, they are more competitive than men are with one-another. Use your wit, your mind and your smile to defeat threatened women.

5. You are a mother. There is nothing greater than this. Work/life balance is easy to attain when you've got that straight.

You will never read this, but mom will. And it was a cool dream. And I'm still trying to master these top five lessons from the First Lady of Class.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, November 5

My Prop 8

Last night we as Californians gave more rights to animals and fewer to same-sex couples. It's mind-baffling.

I have never believed in the idea of gay marriage -- mostly for the icky visual. @LaGringa and I fighting over who had the better dress, nudging our way down the aisle, who would walk first? We've laughed about what a wedding to us would look like, and for both of us, it wouldn't look like anything. We've got our families, the bling, the house and, almost weekly, get the giggles after 11 years of friendship.

But what I've learned through this process is that I *do* believe in gay marriage for one single reason: I believe in the civil rights afforded to every person, irregardless of who they go to bed with at night. On Sunday night, I started to panic -- what if Prop 8 passes and we didn't do anything to help? Are we hypocrites? Are we failing a community we've so deliberately shied away from? Would people I know ever vote to take away my basic civil rights they themselves are afforded?

On Monday I Twittered about where to dig up a 'No on Prop 8' sign and I was directed to the Democratic HQ in San Jose. As I walked in, a group of people were leaving to go hold signs at the main train station. I grabbed two signs and ran home to change clothes. If I was going to stand up publicly, I wanted to look as girly as possible.

At the train station I was surrounded by other No on Prop 8 sign holders. Many of them were from my town, several had their kids in tow. These folks weren't some radical freaks, they were moms and dads giving an hour of their own time. An hour to a parent is so precious. Not even one person I demonstrated with was in a same-sex relationship. NOT ONE. These were parents of young children, smart, educated, friendly, kind people who stood by me on a rainy Monday night to fight for MY rights, not theirs. I have rarely been so humbled.

I carried my sign around all day on Tuesday, stopping at random places where Yes on Prop 8 folks gathered. I did not speak (and you know for me, that's a feat), instead, I smiled. I held my little sign that said, "Equality for All" on major street corners in San Jose and Campbell. I got waves and honks and smiles and thumbs up. Once I got a "boo!" and twice someone screaming out their car, "Yes on 8!", but hey, I was good a good target. A buddy of mine saw me and pulled over, came to the median to chat with me while I held my sign. He's a die-hard Republican. He told me not to worry, that all his Red friends were voting No on 8. His words, "Everyone knows that that's ridiculous."

Somewhere in the middle of this, I started to think about Portia and Ellen deGeneres. Were they freaking out? Calling their lawyers? Standing on street corners like me? I decided to txt @laGringa and call our tax accountant. If we were going to get enough of a tax break, that would be reason enough to head down to the courthouse. We agreed to go, made an appointment for 4 p.m. when a mass marriage was being held for folks that had the same idea we did. I drove to the courthouse and... well, that's as far as we got. I chickened out.

As the polls unfolded last night, @laGringa and I were profoundly sad. Were we such bad people that we should give more rights to animals and less to us? How do we explain that to our children?

Today, we have gotten condolence calls, hugs, txts, voicemails and emails. I sat on a bench rewinding the last few days and came away with this: I live in a community that stands by me, for me and grieves with me. I live where I am free, treated with respect and dignity. There is not one same-sex couple on my street, yet there are multiple "No on 8" lawn signs up and down the little suburban nook I live in. I am blessed.

Indeed, we lost basic civil rights last night. It is serious and grotesque and it's not over yet. But that was last night. The fallout for me has been profound: I gained a reminder of how lucky I am, how honored we are to live amongst such an extraordinary community. And further reminded how deeply I adore and respect my spouse.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, November 4

Follow 24 Hours of Election Day from My Perspective

I'm using the Flip to catalog events on this historic election day from our little town.

You can follow it here!

Bookmark and Share

Monday, November 3

1 - Obama and McCain are Like Tom and Jerry