Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don't Ask Don't Tell

So it looks like the US is set to overturn the highly controversial Don't Ask Don't Tell Policy that was made law in 1993. I distinctly remember being a junior in high school and not understanding why the policy was necessary. Did people think that gay people hadn't served in the military before? Why why this policy suddenly needed? Everyone in the military has served with gay people, whether they were out or not, did they think that there would be less gay people because of the policy?

The only thing the policy did was reinforce that gay people were less than straight people in this country. That it was OK to be gay if you hid it. That when a bigot killed a person they suspected of being gay it was that person's fault for acting gay. If you have a problem with gay people then you are the one who should be punished and kicked out of the military. By kicking gay people out because ignorant people were uncomfortable with their presence you are telling gay people that they will be held accountable for the stupidity of others. That we can't expect people to be tolerant of people that are different from them.

The arguments from the people who didn't want the policy repealed are very similar to the arguments against letting blacks and women having equal rights. There are still people who kill people because of race and sex but we don't tell the victims it's their fault for being being black or female. We shouldn't prevent people from living free lives because it might make some people uncomfortable. There are people who stare at my husband and I when we hold hands. People who are blatantly rude simply because we are an interracial couple. It bothers me that these people exist but it doesn't make me let go of my husbands hand.

About an hour north of Syracuse, is Fort Drum Army base. This morning they interviewed three different people who lived at the base to get their opinion of the policy. They picked three people who represented the most ignorant arguments that I have heard against overturning the policy. New York is a very liberal state, particularly upstate New York where I live. It was distressing that the three people that they chose don't properly represent this state.

The first person was an older veteran. He had a long beard, a leather vest and a bandanna (very biker look). He said that when he was in the military there were homosexuals and those people got sent to the hospital; that's just how things went sometimes. I'm happy that this person is too old to serve in the military. But you know that person, and people like him, raise ignorant kids who have the same views or disown their kids when they come out to them. It wouldn't be a surprise if this person wore a sheet on the weekend and burned crosses in front of people's houses.

The second person was in his early 20's and he said that he didn't believe in "it" because that's how he was raised. OK, so you are against homosexuality as a lifestyle. What does that have to do with some one's ability to serve in the military? That person isn't going to stop being gay just because they aren't in the military. Gay people are still going to exist. You cannot force the entire country to live life based on your personal religious or moral bigotry.

The third person was also in his early 20's and he said that he was okay with it as long as "they" didn't hit on him. That's right because every gay person hits on every straight person. Because gay people are obsessed with having sex and cannot control themselves when they are around people of the same sex. Because when you're hunkered down in a foxhole with someone trying to avoid enemy fire their only focus is on getting into your pants. Don't flatter yourself.

When I was in college there was a big deal made of a woman trying to join the Citadel. The administrators at the southern, military school said that she would be a distraction to the other cadets. That they could not guarantee her safety and that their facilities were not set up to accommodate women. In the end she won her lawsuit and opened up the Citadel to women. She didn't graduate because the harassment was too much for her to handle. But many other women have gone on to attend and graduate from the Citadel.

A woman attending the Citadel is not longer such a novelty. Future generations won't be able to imagine not serving next to female class mates. I hope that is how we look back on gays in the military. That we think of the 17 years when we kicked 13,500+ people out of the military simply for being suspected of being gay as a dark time in this country's history. That it is grouped together with other major civil rights milestones.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More Amazing Race

Season 17 just ended. At the beginning of the season my husband and I thought all the young coupled teams were weak. There seemed to be drama and a total lack of partnership from the very beginning. We both thought this would be the season when a female team won. We were expecting the doctors (who would make a great couple) and the volleyball players to do well and had high hopes for the gay best friends who all seemed very fit. Of course the volleyball players were super cocky and went out early and the gay best friends went out the first episode. But the doctor's did win! They frustrated us by winning a leg and then almost losing the next leg but we loved them as a team and felt like they really cared about each other. And it was nice to see someone with diabetes living such an active life without them hitting you over the head with the diabetes story. We totally fell for the father daughter team of Gary and Mallory and the HSN hosts Brooke and Claire. They were much stronger than we expected and we'd love to see them on an all-star season.

Season 16 had our favorite team of all time: The Cowboys. They were great competitors. They had great personalities and didn't fall into any of the childish games that the other teams played. We also liked the cops, Louie and Michael, and loved to hate the lesbians Carol and Brandy. There is nothing more frustrating than the "alternative team" making a bad name for other people who live an alternative lifestyle. We were surprised by how well Brent and Caite did despite their stereotypical dumb model moments. It was painful to see Joe and Heidi kicked out early with a U-turn but he was an ass so I guess it was karma. They could definitely win if given another chance. We couldn't stand Dan and Jordan, the brothers and eventual winners. Why do so man 20-somethings act like they're still in high school?

Season 2 had our second favorite team of all time: The Miami Diva Gays aka Danny and Oswald. They had the best attitudes. They were hilarious. They kept their sense of humor, they maintained a great friendship and when time allowed they went shopping and got spa treatments along the race. I would love to hang out with them. We had high hopes for Shola and Doyin, the twins, and were hoping they would last longer. Cyndi and Russell, the married pastors, were a team we wanted to hate but they did have a great attitude and a really sweet marriage. It's always nice to see older people that can compete. The former roommates (Gary and Dave) and the separate couple (Tara and Wil) were annoying. We went in and out of liking the uber fit brother and sister team (Blake and Paige). The grandmothers were inspiring but we didn't have any hope for them. We were happy when Chris and Alex, the best friends won, but only because we liked them more than the other teams in the final three.

Season 3 is the last season that we watched before season 17. This season featured the most annoying competitor and worst winner ever. Based on this season all of the rules for future seasons should be set. One team member should not be allowed to complete most of the tasks. Zach and Flo won the race. Flo complete 1 road block. Zach did the other 9. Flo constantly quit the race and Zach often had to physically carry her because she was too lazy to try. I hope he took his half of the money and never spoke to her again. Terri and Ian, the older married couple, started as another couple with a bossy husband and submissive wife but during the season he seemed to realize how important she was and she started to assert herself more. We found ourselves rooting for them more and more as the race wore on and were happy to see them finish second. We liked the brothers, Ken and Gerard, from the beginning but feel like they would have gone further if they didn't get caught up in all the alliance drama. We were hoping than Team 911, Andre and Damon would do better. We also rooted for John Vito and Jill but they often got caught up in the high school b.s. with the other teams jealousy towards the wonder twins, Derek and Drew.

So we've watched 9 seasons of the Amazing Race in 14 months. Eight more past seasons to catch up on and an All-Star Season coming in February. It seems like in recent seasons CBS has skimped on the production of the show. There haven't been 2 hour specials. There haven't been fake pit stops that were actually just the half way point in the race. They have the footage and they definitely have the money. Why not give us a better show like you did in the earlier seasons? They need to stick with making sure each teammate does an equal number of roadblocks and stop equalizing the field at the beginning of every leg. There should be multiple flights. There shouldn't be one team sitting around for 12 hours before a place opens to let all the other teams catch up. I know they have to do it sometimes but if they do it every time it gets annoying.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Joys of Marriage

There are many days when I can't believe I ever managed life as a single person. The obvious perk is companionship. Always having a date to weddings. Someone to go with you when you check out that new club/restaurant/play you've been dying to see. A warm body in bed. An ear to listen to you complain about your crappy day. Someone to hold your hand at the doctor's office. A partner in life.

In my marriage I also have the benefit of having a husband who is very handy. I don't have to worry about who's going to cut the grass, snow blow the driveway, clean the gutters, etc. Not to mention all the minor repairs I would have paid a professional to complete that my husband can do.

I hope that my husband thinks of me in a similar way. I do most of the shopping, plan and cook most meals, manage the money, do the laundry and provide most of the care for our pets. When he was single there weren't pets to deal with but I hope that my management of the other household tasks makes up for the additional responsibility of our three pets.

Unfortunately its not all perfect wedded bliss. There are days when I feel like my life is harder to manage than it was when I was single. When it feels like I have a roommate and not a partner. I've had a few of these days in a row and the only way I'm going to get any sleep tonight is to blog about it. Don't get me wrong, I love my husband and there are way more good days than bad days but sometimes he makes me want to scream!

I have the luxury of having a flexible work schedule. I rarely spend more than 24 hours in my office a week. If I have a busy week of traveling and meetings, I can usually take it easy the next week. I work from home as often, if not more, as I go to the office. Sometimes I get cabin fever because I spend so much time in the house alone. I feel like a housewife after too much time alone at home taking care of the pets and the house. I get so excited about my husband coming home and helping out. In my mind, the moment he walks in the door he will notice how clean the house is, how good dinner smells, the pile of clean laundry in his drawer and the fully stocked pantry and be so grateful for this that he will offer to take the dogs out for a long playtime while I enjoy a hot bath. After that he will carry me to the bedroom and make sweet love to me while telling me how much he appreciates me.

Okay, that's not really what I expect but a little bit of that would be nice. My husband works a very physical job and is usually at work 45+ hours a week. When he comes home he sits down and eats dinner and then watches TV until its time to go to bed. The next morning, he might watch another 2-3 hours of TV before getting ready for work. I try not to say anything because I know I've got a really cushy job most days and I recognize how tired he must be. A lot of times my expectation of the relief that I will have when my husband gets home doesn't match up with reality and get frustrated with him. I know it's not fair for me to be angry with him for not living up to my daydream but it's also not fair for him to expect me to give him a free pass in this household.

I recognize that he's not going to be ready to jump up and do something the moment he gets home but after a few hours it starts to get to me. I think that if he sees me doing something productive that will inspire him to do something productive and he will get off the couch and help. That's how my brain works but it's definitely not how his works.

Sunday my husband left the house at 8:45 am and returned home at 8:30 pm. Someone had called out of work so he ended up working later than usual. We sat down and watched TV until 10:30 when he went to bed. This morning my husband's alarm went off at 7 am. After an hour of snooze and sleep he came downstairs made his coffee and sat on the couch to watch TV. He stayed there until it was time for him to take a shower and get ready for work. He left at 10:15 am.

While he was sitting on the couch I took each dog outside for a separate play time and then played with them together inside the house. Then I did the dishes. After that I was a little pissed because I'd been telling him off in my head for the past 15 minutes. I went to sit down and read a magazine to cool off and relax before going to work. About 5 minutes into reading, my husband comes into the bedroom being all cute and kissy face and I'm thinking to myself "Are you f-ing kidding me?". That's not what I said. I didn't say anything. I kissed him back and pretended like everything was okay but if he was paying attention it would have been obvious to him that I was pretending. So not only are you not going to help me but you're going to interrupt the only private time that I've had all morning?

I had meetings after work today and didn't get home until 11 pm. My husband was getting off at 4 pm. Before he left for work this morning I asked him to stop by the pet store and pick up dog food on his way home because otherwise there wouldn't be enough food for the dogs to have dinner or breakfast the next morning. The pet store is literally in the same parking lot as his job. A pretty nasty storm rolled in this evening so on my way home I stopped at the grocery store to pick up milk and a couple of other things we were out of. It was white knuckle driving the whole way home because of the black ice and blowing snow. When I walked in the house I found a sink full of dirty dishes and a note on the door that says "Sorry forgot the dog food, guess I'm a bad husband". My husband is asleep because he has to be at work at 7 am. So there is no chance of him planning on doing any of these things in the morning.

Forgetting the dog food is one thing. Being at home from 4 pm until 10 pm when the pet stores close and not going to get any food is another thing. Not sending me a text message or an e-mail is an even bigger thing since tomorrow I will likely have to drive in a blizzard with several inches of snow on the ground. That's why I picked up the necessities tonight in case we got snowed in. But that's not his problem. I'll go to the pet store tomorrow and get their food. I'll deal with whatever digestive issues they might have from eating a different diet for the past couple meals. I'll get dog food in the morning and then come home to make sure it's here before I leave for work and another late night of meetings. As always, it will be my problem to deal with and not his.

My husband and I have had this argument before so I'm not even going to deal with it. What usually happens is that I get upset that he forgot something or that he isn't helping out. Then he reminds me of how physical his job his and how easy mine is. So then the implication is that I should do more because I have more free time. That he needs more time to decompress after work because of how demanding his job is. Then I usually get the "You know I'm not a dog person/I told you if we got another dog I wasn't going to pitch in more" speech. Then I usually remind him that I'm only asking him to take an hour out of the five hours that he spent on the couch to help out. This sort of passive-aggressive argument goes on for about an hour until we are both sick of it. Then we have an awkward truce where we watch TV and go to bed still frustrated. There might be an apology the next morning or more discomfort but there is never any resolution.

So what tends to happen next is that I become even more obsessive compulsive about making sure everything gets done. I am already a control freak but after one of these incidents I feel like if I don't do it, it won't get done. Then my husband gets frustrated with me for second guessing him all the time. Eventually I let my guard down and ask him to do something and the whole cycle starts all over again.

Tomorrow morning my husband will be all kissy face and act like nothing has happened. I will spend the night tossing and turning and having an argument with him in my head. I might be short with him in the morning but he either won't notice or we'll have an argument about it. Then I'll spend the day stewing every time I do something that he could've done while he was home.

I think the worst part of it is the expectation that he was going to do something. At least when I was single I knew that it was all on my plate and I never relied on anyone to help me out with anything. Marriage gives you the false impression that you have a partner in all aspects of life but that's not the case at all. You have more help in some areas and less help, but more work, in others. What I'd really like to do is go upstairs and take a bath to relax after this long day but I can't because the dogs would run upstairs and play and wake up my husband. So I'll just sit down here and stew because I'm being considerate of his needs even though he clearly doesn't return the favor. F that. I'm taking bath and turning on some relaxing music.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Amazing Race Obsession

My husband and I just started watching The Amazing Race (TAR) in October 2009. We were relaxing in a hotel room after spending the weekend visiting family and flipping through the channels. There was about a month of season 15 left and we were instantly hooked. We spent the next week catching up on all the old episodes from that season. When the season ended we suffered from TAR withdrawal and sought out every other season.

Over the past year we have watched a lot of TAR. With the season 17 finale coming up tonight and an all-star season coming up next year, we started going through all the seasons we had seen and listing our favorites. I figured if I'm going to go through the effort of looking through the old seasons I might as well blog about it.

During season 15 we fell in love with the Globetrotters team and wanted them to win. We also rooted for the interracial couple, Ericka and Brian, even though we found her pageant queen personality annoying and him too passive. Meghan and Cheyenne, aka the Blondes, were so perfect it was annoying. They were beautiful. They were great racers. Even when they made bad decisions, they had luck on their side. It was enough to make you vomit. So of course they won. We were sad that Zev and Justin lost their passports and got kicked out early. It would have been interesting to see how Zev's Asperger's affected them throughout the race. We were also pulling for Matt and Gary. There is something very engaging about a father and son team who clearly have very little in common and are getting to know each other during the race. We absolutely hated Sam and Dan, the twins. They were sneaky, backstabbing jerks and whining babies. We didn't like Maria and Tiffany, the poker stars who couldn't finish a mission without help from other teams, and Lance and Kerri, the worst husband ever and a completely miserable couple. It will be interesting to see who they pick for an all-star season. Fan fave, almost winners or most hated?

The next season we watched was Season 1. From the very beginning we liked Joe and Bill (life partners) and Kevin and Drew (fraternity brothers). It only took a couple legs to realize that Joe and Bill were overconfident jerks. We couldn't believe that Margarita and Frank had ever been married since he was such an a-hole. This was one of the best finale's ever because Frank was so sure they had won the race. He bragged endlessly about how well he knew New York and re-directed the cabbie onto what he thought was a shorter route. It was great seeing the shock on their faces when they realized they were second. It was also great to see the life partners told when they still had a day of racing left that someone had won the race. Nancy and Emily were a surprisingly strong team of granddaughter and grandmother that we found ourselves rooting for. We were happy when the lawyers, Rob and Brennan, won but we weren't really emotionally invested in them.

It was at this point that we realized that CBS had only released 2 of the 15 seasons on DVD (Seasons 1 and 7). You couldn't buy any of these other seasons or get them off Netflix. Fans of TAR have written hundreds of letters to CBS requesting that they release the previous seasons but CBS has not budged. It is not clear why they wouldn't release all of the seasons when they could make millions of dollars. Luckily a lot of the more recent seasons can be found on You Tube and other similar sites and some industrious folks have made money selling DVDs of older seasons that they saved. Thanks to technology and pack rats, my husband and I will have no problem catching up on the rest of the seasons.

Next up was season 7. We loved Lynn and Alex, the gay team, and Meredith and Gretchen, the old couple. Both teams were often frustrating but definitely made it entertaining to watch by both reinforcing and breaking stereotypes that people had about homosexuals and older people. The best moment was when Gretchen busted her head open during the cave challenge and proceeded to spend the rest of the leg with a giant bandage on her head. Rob and Amber were the team that you loved to hate. We have never watched Survivor but it seems like winning a million dollars on one CBS show should take you out of the running for competing for a million on another CBS show. Kelly was another annoying beauty queen and her boyfriend Ron realized she was wrong for him half way through the race. Patrick was a whiny child who frequently brought his mom Susan down. Ray another jerk who treated his wife Deana like everything was her fault. We wished that Ryan and Chuck, the hillbillies, made it further along. We were so excited when Uchenna and Joyce won. It was the first time that our favorite team, and a team we were rooting for the whole time, won the race. They were a great couple with a great story (failed fertility treatments and a desperate desire to have children). She had to shave her head in India and they had to beg for money at the end to finish first. It was an epic season.

In general we think CBS has a fantastic show. We hate the seasons when they don't make each team member complete an equal number of road blocks. There is nothing more annoying than watching a team excel because one person is doing all the work (the worst offense of this came in a future season). We also don't like it when they take away all of a team's money and belongings and make them beg for money to keep continuing the race. Watching Gretchen and Meredith go through that was painful. That sort of humiliation should never be part of the race.

Season 14 was next. Mark and Michael, the short stuntmen, were a great counterpart to Jen and Kisha, the tall college athletes. The brother-sister dynamic was a great part of this season. Tammy and Victor, the brother-sister Asian team, were the most engaging of the three sibling teams. Their relationship grew the most during the trip and you were happy to see them win in the end. Margie and Luke were the most annoying team yet. The fact that he was deaf didn't have to be the focus of this team but it was because he was such a petulant child and she was his enabler. If anyone criticized him or called him out on his bratty behavior they were being prejudiced against deaf people. It was ridiculous. Mel and Mike were a great father and son team who didn't really seem to have a chance but were great to root for. Linda and Steve were an interesting couple because she was so out of shape and he was not supportive. It would be nice to see them come back and compete after some time with a personal trainer and a shrink.

Season 13 was next (I know, it's disturbing that we've watched this much in a year). We knew the hippies, Arthur and Anita weren't going to make it very far. We were amazed by how negative Dan was towards his teammate Andrew and how out of shape these young college kids were. Terrence was a creepy guy who constantly needed to be validated by his girlfriend Sarah. We hope she broke it off and got a restrianing order against him after the show. Tina, the mean wife for a change, to her too forgiving husband Ken (we know, he cheated on her once but if you're going to make him pay for it every day of your relationship then just end it). Nick and Starr, very fit, sometimes fun, sometimes annoying brother and sister, won it all in the end. Toni and Dallas, a little too close mom and son, did better than we expected and Mark and Bill, the Mythbusters look-a-likes and nerdy team, didn't do as well as we hoped.

Okay, taking a break now. Will finish up another day.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Is it time to jump ship?

I voted for Barack Obama, like the majority of this country. When I voted for him I felt like he would address the problems that I had with the previous administration and make us look better to other countries. I have always felt that we are behind many other developed countries when it comes to civil liberties and basic human rights. Over the past several months I have become concerned that the aggressive goals the President set during his campaign were just empty promises that he made to get elected. It is becoming harder to support him as more time goes by without any real change.

Politically I am extremely liberal. I am registered independent because the traditional policies of the democratic and republican parties do not appeal to me. By definition, I am probably a libertarian but the people who run on that platform in this country do not have the same politics as I do. In my lifetime, the democrats running for major office have been liberal and the republicans running for office have been conservative. I'm sure there are liberal republicans and conservative democrats out there but I have yet had the opportunity to vote for/against them. I have always voted for democrats for high office not because I consider myself a democrat but because of their liberal policies.

I wish that some of the "socialist" policies that other counties have would be adopted in the U.S. The most import of these policies is universal health care. The fact that we live in a country where someone can go bankrupt and/or die from a treatable medical condition because of the amount of money they make is disgusting. Health care should be a basic human right. If you make more money and have a high-end medical insurance policy then good for you. No one should be able to take that policy away from you. That "Cadillac" coverage is a perk of your employment or an expense that you have chosen to pay for. If the government decided to provide this high-end coverage for the entire country the deficit would be even worse than it is now. But that's not what's being proposed. What's being proposed is basic coverage for everyone.

I'm happy that a health care plan passed this year. I am happy that a lot more Americans will get coverage that didn't have it before. But I am unhappy that there are still people who will be left out in this plan. I am unhappy that obscene prices are charged for medications and procedures because health care is a for-profit industry in this country. I am unhappy that the greed of drug companies, lobbyists and insurance companies fuels the medical industry.

Gay marraige, the economy, immigration, energy, education, gays in the military and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are all items that the President promised to address during his term. I understand that we are only 2 years into his presidency and that the republicans in congress have made it their personal mission to challenge everything that President Obama proposes. I also understand that he has made some progress on some of these issues but to a much lesser extent than was expected.

I don't think that I'm angry that the policies didn't pass. I'm angry that the president gave up before he even really tried. We all came out and voted for him because he proposed radical change. When he decides not to put controversial policies up for vote he is giving up. He is telling his supporters that its not worth the fight. So we are left wondering if that is really the case or if he never intended to implement those policies in the first place.

So the republicans weren't going to support continuing the Bush tax cuts if they didn't include the wealthiest Americans. Fine. Put that policy up for a vote and let the republicans be known as the party who made life more difficult for millions of Americans who were already struggling financially. Expose them to be the selfish children that they are. By proposing to extend the full tax cuts you are not only appeasing the republicans but increasing an already growing deficit. You are postponing the inevitable. In 2 years, when these tax cuts come up for renewal again, you will be facing re-election. Are we really to believe that you will chose to propose such a controversial policy at that time? At some point, the rich people in this country are going to have to stop getting coddled and made richer by ridiculous policies. If you're not going to stand up to the republicans on this issue then there is not hope for the really controversial topics.

My husband and I will likely be included in those Americans who make $250,000 or more as a couple in a few years. I fully expect to have a bigger chunk of our salaries withheld at that point. And I hope that tax money will be used for the greater good of the country and not to continue with more asinine policies. If not, I'm going to have to vote for someone who really does stand for change and doesn't just give great speeches.
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