Friday, December 19, 2008

Cancelling church in honor of Christmas?

From today's bulletin at the Catholic University where I work.:

"Due to the Christmas holiday break, Masses will not be said from Saturday, Dec. 20, through Saturday, Jan. 3, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas."

Nothing honors Baby Jesus more than NOT saying Mass.

I totally get why it is cancelled with all the students off campus for winter break, but it just looked funny to me.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fuck This

It is time once again to go through annual open enrollment at my place of employment. Usually the only effect this has on me is that the rates increase for me to keep the same health benefits. Meaning that every year, I enjoy my annual raise for about two months before the increase in health insurance makes it moot. But this year, there is a new option: pet insurance. One thing that hasn't changed: "The university uses the Defense of Marriage Act to identify legal spouses that are eligible for coverage". That's right, for $6.65/month, I can get health insurances for my pet rat, but I can't cover my partner. I know that isn't really shocking considering I work at a Catholic University, but give me a freaking break. My girlfriend and I have been together longer than my boss and her husband. We've also been together longer than my boss's boss and her husband. Both Catholic/Christian. Both divorced and remarried. So spare me your bullshit about the sanctity of marriage.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Trying not to drink the Kool-Aid

I came to a sad realization a while back: When it comes to career/school, I'd rather endure an unhappy, but otherwise predictable and stable present than take a risk on an unknown future. There are reasons for these coping mechanisms I've developed, but that doesn't make them any less annoying. Well, I decided coping mechanisms be damned, I was applying to grad school and getting the hell out of my job (this liberal lesbian managed to get a job on the only campus in the Twin Cities with more McCain than Obama signs in dorm room windows). I got the acceptance letter last weekend and Pfunk and I decided this week that we should move into a bigger apartment before I start school. Two big changes that require action on my part. This is my Insta-Anxiety Solution: Just add change.

Today was my first meltdown. I'm lucky I have the most patient girlfriend on the planet.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Voting Nightmare

It is a good thing we are finally having the election tomorrow. Currently, my day consists of listening to (while doing my data entry work):

Last night's "Daily Show"
Last night's "Colbert Report"
Today's "Democracy Now"

Then I do a vigorous cycle of nytimes, npr, cnn, huffingon post, michael moore's site. Rinse. Repeat. Throw in my frequent email updates from Obama, Franken, Keith Ellison, Planned Parenthood and OutFront and my brain is pretty well saturated.

So it is really no surprise that I had a dream about voting over the weekend.

In the dream, I was living Australia. I must've forgotten to vote absentee because I flew all the way back to the U.S. to vote. After waiting in line, I voted on touch screen video machines. In between each candidate, I had to watch commercials on the screen. Not election ads, but movie trailers and the like. After only voting for maybe 4 or 5 positions, a friendly message informed me I was finished voting. Well, I knew there were supposed to be more people on the ballot than I'd had a chance to vote for, so I pitched a royal fit. I demanded a paper ballot and was screaming at everyone to do the same. While the election officials scurried off to find me a paper ballot, John McCain hobbled over to me and asked if there was anything he could do to help. I showed him the cheat sheet I had prepared to prove that there were more issues people to vote on than the video machine had allowed. I think he made a comment about the fact that the cheat sheet was on legal sized paper instead of letter and then my alarm went off.

Can you find the friendly gay cabaret member?

Pfunk and I celebrated our two year anniversary early in October. In honor of the occasion, she booked us two reservations on the Minnesota Zephyr, a dinner train cabaret out of Stillwater. When she made the reservation over the phone, she informed them that we'd be celebrating our anniversary. When the tickets arrived, we realized that we'd been booked on the daytime lunch ride, not the evening dinner as planned. We decided to make the most of it and take the day off work and spend it together. I think regardless of whether we took the lunch or dinner ride, we were probably going to be among the youngest on the train. But I was especially certain that would be the case on a Tuesday afternoon.

I was right. Almost everyone else at the Depot was white haired and looked like they stepped off a tour bus from a local senior center. The only people remotely close to our age were traveling with older companions.

I was relieved when we got a table to ourselves. I didn't want our anniversary to be unnecessarily uncomfortable by having to explain that we are not sisters, or friends, but partners celebrating two years together. The ride progressed nicely. Despite the rain outside the train, we enjoyed taking photos and talking. The Zephyr cabaret performed Big Band era songs in period costume between each of the five courses of the meal. The food and entertainment were enjoyable. We quickly identified the gay male member of the cabaret. Because wherever there is cabaret, there's gonna be at least one gay!

After dessert, the waitstaff came around to each table. I could hear them asking the other tables, "Are you celebrating a birthday or anniversary today?". But when our waitress came to our table, she said, "Are you celebrating a birthday or an--birthday today?". Instead of correcting her and proclaiming our anniversary loud and proud, I must confess that we chickened out and responded in the negative to the birthday question.

Turns out that a couple across the aisle from us were celebrating a wedding anniversary. When the Zephyr cabaret came to their table to sing, "When I Fall in Love", I took Pfunk's hand and held it on top of the table. I whispered, "Let's just pretend they are singing to us too." Well, the gay man in the group saw us holding hands and winked at us as they were singing. When the song concluded, he turned to us and said, "Are you two celebrating something too?". I said yes and he wished us Congratulations before re-joining the cabaret in the next car.

Several minutes later, the gay guy came back to our table, sat next to Pfunk, and said, "So, how long have you lovebirds been together?". We told him two years. He replied, "My partner and I are going on 16 [years]. Too bad we don't live in California, but maybe someday!". It was nice to be recognized after feeling invisible earlier, especially after Pfunk made a point to tell them it was an anniversary dinner when she made the reservations. When we celebrated our anniversary at the Melting Pot last year we did the same thing and they had a special card for us at our table. It is too bad it took another gay person to realize that Pfunk and I are a couple.

Well, it gets worse. I don't know if the table across the aisle heard our exchange with the gay guy, but they started talking about politics. First is was just typical Republican B.S.

"That Sarah Palin is sharp."

"Poor Elizabeth Hasselback never gets a word in edgewise on 'The View'".

"With the liberal media, all we have left is Talk Radio."

We didn't bother responding; they are entitled to their opinions. I did tell Paige to put her bag, with its Obama button, on top of the table and angle it in their direction, which she did.

But then the oldest man at the table said, "If a Republican ever slips up, the media is all over it, but God forbid they say anything bad about the bastard n**ger."

I audibly gasped.

Paige, who had wisely stopped eavesdropping long before that, said, "What?!".

I said, "That guy just said the N Word."

Then I turned to the man who had committed the offense and said very quickly, "Could-you-please-not-say-that-thank-you!".

He never acknowledged me directly, but said say to his companions (I think in response to me), "Oh sure, you can say every four letter word in the book, but you can't say the N word."

To which, I thought: Exactly. You may find the word "fuck" offensive, but unlike the word you just used, fuck is not a word used to discriminate against a segment of the population that has been systematically oppressed. Fuck and the N word are nowhere near the same. Furthermore, he does Republicans a disservice. Until he "went there," I'd disagreed with their comments, but politely kept my mouth shut. But if you ever had any desire to get me to respect your ring-wing views, all of that went out the window when you said that.

I was literally shaking with anger. Luckily, all of this happened during the last few minutes of the trip and we pulled in the depot shortly thereafter.

When I was recounting the story to my therapist the next day, I think she summed up the experience best when she said that it was like the train (with its 40s/50s music and costumes) had actually gone back in time. To a time when gays were invisible and white people are profoundly racist.

Of course, this experience is evidence that you don't have to go back in time for these things to happen. I'm sure my white privilege is partially responsible for the shock I experienced when I heard that slur. That and living in my liberal urban bubble.

This whole experience got me thinking about minority rights and the differences between gay rights and racial minority rights. The fact that gay people can, to some degree, choose who they "come out"to as a minority can be handy. If I'm in a situation where I'm concerned there are anti-gay bigots, I can choose to be closeted about my sexual orientation. Racial minorities don't have the option of only showing their skin to those they deem safe. But, as our experience on the train demonstrates, the burden to have to make ourselves visible to people than don't see us can also be disheartening and exhausting.

I couldn't help but think that if same-sex marriage was legal in this country, Paige and I might not have been invisible to the waitress. If awareness of same-sex partnerships was legal recognized, people would be forced to see us.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Nomi Prins and Michael Hudson were guests on Democracy Now! yesterday to talk about the latest corporate bailout of AIG. They both gave great insight into the situation and helped me understand this complicated problem better. Hudson probably gave the best single sentence summary I've heard when he said,"The economy is being sacrificed (by the government) to pay the gamblers." Link here. The interview starts at 10:20.

What makes this interview even more enjoyable is that Michael Hudson sounds a lot like
Wallace Shawn. So if you close your eyes, it sounds like Amy Goodman is interviewing Vizzini from The Princess Bride.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Every tag ever used on flickr to date

2008 2008maydayparade 34thannualmaydayparadefestival 89s10thst 8track acrylic airplane artistdesignedminigolf babyrat barackobama barn basketball bathroom bedazzled bedraceforbridging bird bloomingtonave blue bookshelf buckhill bumpersticker burnsville canvas celebritymii chicago chicagogayprideparade church cootersdukesofhazzardmuseum costume crowd cute dfl dog downtown drawing dukesofhazzard duluth elvis face falafel freerangefilmfestival frog furry gaypride gayprideparade gold graceland graffiti grantpark green hellskitchen hood hoodedrat hoodie hurricanedamage hurricanekatrina illinois intheheartofthebeastpuppetandmasktheatre jackdanielsdistillery june32008 katrina library lighthouse line longline louisiana lousiana lword lynchburg lynx lynxwon may42008 mayday maydayparade memorial memphis michelleobama mii minigolf minneapolis minneapolissculpturegarden20thanniversarycelebration minnesota minnesotalynx minnesotalynxvshoustoncomets mnartistsorg movieposter nascar nashville neworleans nola obama obamarally obamawinsnomination october2005 orange oshaughnessyfrey painting petrat pink plastic plastictoys poster prideparade puttputt queue racewaypark rat red redcross reflection retro saintpaul september2005 shadow shakopee shorttrack sign slidell southminneapolis sowhatsonyourbookshelf stage stockcar stockcarraces stpaul tabouli tacky targetcenter tasteofchicago tennessee theking thelword thetaste thriftstore trash tree tshirt umbrella universityofstthomas ust walkerartcenter walkerinsideoutartgoesoutdoors walkeronthegreen whiskey white wii window wnba wrenshall xcelenergycenter yellow

Monday, July 28, 2008

"I Do!"

I mentioned a while back that my sister went to a wedding that was being filmed for a TV show called "I Do" on NBC. My brother in law was a groomsman in the wedding. The episode airs tomorrow night (Tuesday, July 29)...but only in Chicago. Doesn't look like the show has been picked up by the Twin Cities. Oh well. There is a 4 minute clip online. My sister swears her shoulder makes an appearance in the clip. My brother-in-law's entire body certainly shows up. He's the tallest groomsman by about a foot. Check it out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

URGENT! I just wrote to Dubya and you should too!

I received an urgent email from Planned Parenthood informing me of something George W. Bush plans to do during his remaining months in office. Here is the text of the email [the info in the brackets below is mine]:

"We've known for some time that anti-choice extremists have wanted President Bush to deliver them some sort of "gift" before he leaves office. This rule change is just that gift. And here's what one of the most egregious results could be:

Right now, anti-choice groups run so-called "crisis pregnancy centers" in communities all around the country — often a block or two away from Planned Parenthood affiliate health centers [and other legitimate abortion providers]. These facilities look like health centers, but in reality are run by anti-choice zealots who deliver only the reproductive health care options that fit their agenda. No birth control, no abortion — and no choice for women and families who need it. If this rule takes effect, they're likely to receive a massive influx of our tax dollars to expand their deceptive operations and to attract hundreds of thousands of women who think they'll be getting medical care but instead will receive a large dose of anti-choice ideology.

I believe that tricking women when they are most vulnerable is wrong — and the federal government shouldn't pay people to do it. It gets worse. The rule would also require entities that receive family planning funding, like Planned Parenthood, to certify that we will not refuse to hire nurses and other providers who object to abortion and even certain types of birth control. Between deceptive "crisis pregnancy centers" delivering woefully incomplete care and legitimate health centers with extremely limited funding, hundreds of thousands of women are at enormous risk."

This is outrageous and cannot happen! I have personal experience working in two legitimate abortion clinics and visiting two of these deceptive "crisis pregnancy centers." The difference in the training, information provided and candor in which their respective staff treats women couldn't be more different. They should not have access to the same funding. My letter to our President is below. The first paragraph is part of a standard form letter provided by Planned Parenthood. The last two paragraphs are my own.

"I am opposed to President Bush's proposed rule to allow federal funding that is specifically designed to prevent unintended pregnancy and promote reproductive health to now be used for anything but that.

I accompanied a friend to a so-called Crisis Pregnancy Center near Detroit in 2000 and found the information provided by their volunteers biased, racist and lacking in medical expertise. My friend was asked if the father was white when the volunteers were pushing adoption. When my friend expressed concerns over being diabetic while pregnant, the untrained volunteers told her she'd had no complications despite having taken no medical history, performed zero tests and not even so much as performed a medical exam. When the possibility of abortion was brought up, we were guilt-tripped and chastised.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers are dangerous. Federal Funds currently available to medical professionals offering sound information to women at their most vulnerable should not become available to untrained biased volunteers posing as members of the medical community."

To learn more about this dangerous legislation and send your own email to George W. Bush, click here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Abstract Expressionism

My Nephew Jackson...

...Is not Named After Jackson Pollack.

But that doesn't mean his milk splattering skills don't border on genius!

It's alot of fun, especially when Auntie K is on clean-up duty!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not a good week for the theatre arts in the Twin Cities

First I heard on MPR that Theatre de la Jeune Lune is closing its doors. Then I found out that the University where I work is eliminating its Theater program. That totally blows.

I've built my own empire, out of car tires and chicken wire

Ain't nobody gettin' outta that cage now! It may be cattywhompus and jerry-rigged and too embarrassing to take out in public, but the cage will now live up to its name and keep the critters inside!

My lesbian mommies went to the hardware store and locked me in!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Open Letter to M. Night Shama-llama-ding-dong*

In regards to your most recent cinematic endeavor, The Happening, you lost me within the first ten minutes when I was supposed to believe that Marky Mark is not only capable of teaching science, but is somehow the "cool" teacher with an obvious rapport with his students. I wasn't buying it. Could have done without the mood ring too.

*I'm not making fun of your name, I just don't know how to pronounce it (or spell it for that matter).

Some stories from the weekend/Monday morning

Saturday morning:

Every other Saturday I go to the Chiropractor and Occupational Therapist. My mind really tends to wander, especially with the O.T., because much of the treatment requires me to lie on an examination table for an hour. I should really start keeping track of all the crazy places my mind goes when I allow myself an hour for stream-of-consciousness. (Similar to my recent blog post about the Girls Grilling cap). Anyways, in was under these conditions that I found myself thinking about rodent abortions. Yes, rodent abortions. Since Pfunk and I adopted the rats, I've joined a few rat groups on flickr. A woman recently posted a story to one of the discussion boards about how she bought a new cage that she thought would contain and separate her male and female rats. Well, she was wrong and ended up with a litter of 10 rat babies. So she paid to have all of her female rats spayed. It was at this point in the story that I read the sentence, "As it turned out, none of the girls were pregnant so I don't have the added guilt of thinking I killed babies but I still 'paid the price' right in the wallet." Really? Were you really going to lose sleep had any of your EIGHT female rats been knocked up when you had them fixed? See, you all may think that Pfunk and I are rat crazy and maybe we are, but some of these people take the crazy to a whole other level!!

Random aside: I can sympathize with the part of her story where the rats escaped the cage. Pfunk and I bought a smaller cage for the girls for travel and trips to the vet(ok, you're right, we are rat crazy) off craigslist this weekend. I underestimated how far apart the bars were in the posted photo and it took Falafel all of two minutes to escape from the ceiling of the cage. It was just like Kate leaving the bear cage on Lost. Tabouli wasn't quite able to follow Falafel's lead and squeeze through. She may be a little slow (or timid), but we still love her.

Saturday afternoon:

I bought the new David Sedaris book on Thursday evening with the goal of rationing it out, savoring each essay. But I was a total literary glutton and finished it at a coffee shop Saturday afternoon (actually, it is somewhat remarkable that it even lasted that long). I had just started the last chapter entitled "The Smoking Section," when a gentleman took the seat on the other side of the end table next to my own chair. Before reading that chapter I'd said to Pfunk, "if David Sedaris can quit smoking, anyone can!" (two of her family members are trying to quit right now). That was before I read that he up and moved to Japan in order to quit. Anyways, I'm reading about Sedaris's last cigarette in Paris before flying to Tokyo (and then his 2nd final cigarette...and his 3rd final cigarette...) when I realize that the man that had sat down next to me was hooked up to an oxygen tank that was quietly exhaling bursts of air into the tube connected to his nose every 10 seconds or so. There are probably dozens of medical reasons someone might use an oxygen tank that have absolutely nothing to do with cigarette smoking, but I still found myself laying the book in my lap to conceal the cover:

Sunday afternoon:

I was talking to my sister on the phone yesterday. She was telling me about the wedding she went to the night before that was filmed by a reality TV camera crew. It was for a new show on NBC called I Do and if the show makes it to air, you will probably see my Brother-in-Law because he was a groomsman. Anyways, she was chatting away about the personalized party favors (including personalized matchbooks to light the provided sparklers at the end of the night - yikes) when I interrupted her to say, "Go ahead and flip me off you fucking Ron Paul voting idiot!!". I might've gotten a "mother fucker" in there too. No, I don't have tourettes syndrome (although Pfunk would claim I show symptoms when either sneezing or playing Guitar Hero). I was driving while talking on the phone. I was behind this guy driving a Cavalier with a Ron Paul bumper sticker. We both pulled into the intersection to turn left, but had to yield to the through traffic. Well, the light turned yellow and the oncoming traffic slowed down to stop, but he still didn't turn. The light turned red and we were both still sitting in the intersection, so I honked at him. At which point both he and his buddy gave me the finger out their open windows, he threw something at my car threw his open window and purposefully drove as slow as he could through the turn. Asshole! My family is so used to listening to my road rage over the phone that my sister just paused for my rant and then continued her story, no questions asked.

Monday morning or "It's like The Office meets Candid Camera":

The saga at work continues. I kinda snapped this morning. I marched into my boss's office and said, "I figured it out. [Ms. Backache] was hired for a hidden camera show that tests people's breaking points. Am I right? Now that we figured it out can the experiment stop?". My boss laughed, but there wasn't a smile on her face.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kid Logic

Growing up, there was one section of sidewalk on the corner that had bike tire tracks going through it. When I was really young, I asked my mom how the tracks got into the sidewalk and she explained that they were put there when the "cement was wet."

After that, every time it rained I would go to the corner while the "cement was wet" and stamp my feet on the concrete to try to leave footprints.

Maybe I need my mommy to lay out my clothes the night before, elementary school style...

When Pfunk's alarm first goes off for the day, I've already been at work for a half an hour (up for an hour and half). This not only means I possess utter resentment and jealousy that my partner gets to "sleep in" everyday, it means I get dressed in the dark. Or at least half of my body gets dressed in the dark. I keep my hanging clothes (pants, blouses, sweaters, etc) in the hall coat closet where there is some light, but my dresser (underwear, socks and T-shirts) is in the dark bedroom where Pfunk is still sleeping.

I was at work for an hour this morning before I realized that I was not wearing my tailored white tee (work appropriate - I work in a casual office), but a thin men's Fruit of the Loom undershirt (not so work appropriate). Pfunk wears white shirts under her clothes almost daily and somehow one ended up in my dresser. So now I'm sitting at my desk wearing a sweatshirt over the undershirt even though it is 80 degrees outside.

Earlier this week, I realized in the work parking lot that I hadn't paired black socks with my new black shoes as intended, but instead was wearing navy blue socks with black flats. So I went sockless (and got blisters from my new shoes).

These events would indicate that I'm lacking the desired level of alertness in the morning.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Somebody let the rats choose the movies

Pfunk suspects that Falafel and Tabouli are Chipmunk groupies.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Waitress

I normally don't complain about work when I'm at home, or even get very riled up while I'm at the office for that matter. I don't have the kind of job that warrants that kind of energy. It's not important enough, I don't get paid enough, I'm not high up enough etc. Some might call that a bad attitude, but it's simply the reality. I like that I have a job that I don't bring home with me.

But today was just strange. The day started with an admissions counselor bursting into tears in our office and ended with a coworker spilling an entire Nalgene bottle of water on her computer mouse and keyboard. (To add insult to injury, she was just given a computer upgrade last week; the computer is brand new). And the events that transpired in between also left much to be desired.

I knew that the tides had shifted, that we'd surrendered all decorum, when one of the members of my team asked another to walk on her back. I'd expect as much from the one with the backache, but I'd never expect the other one to agree. But the next thing I knew, Ms. Backache was laying on the nasty office floor and the other was removing her shoes to walk on her back. You just have to trust me that this was very bizarre.

What put me over the edge personally was the presence of a new employee that has been in our office a lot lately for training. I can't stand her. And it really isn't her fault, she doesn't deserve the animosity I was feeling towards her today. I think most of it isn't even about her. This angst has been months in the making, long before she was even hired.

Basically, my department is merging with another department. We've been in a state of imbalance and transition for months with this merger. And it is one of those circumstances where, for the most part, everyone is civil and maintains proper office etiquette on the surface. But a dramatic power struggle is brewing underneath, with people taking sides.

This merger is happening because our department is successful and theirs is flailing. And it was thrust upon us from the top down, literally from the President of the university. The other department is incompetent at their jobs, unable or unwilling to recognize that their incompetence and resent having us come in and telling them what's what. Meanwhile, we resent having to babysit them. As the result of this merger, we inherited one of their employees. She has an attitude problem, is resistant to change and has a personality that would be difficult in any small office, let along under these circumstances. She would be Ms. Backache. Ms Pain in the ass. Ms. Thorn in my Side.

Just when I was started to get used to Ms. Backache, figuring out how to tolerate her quirks, the incompetent department hired the aforementioned new employee, whom I'll call Ms. Jazzhead. Why anyone trusted the incompetent department to pick the new hire, I'll never know. She's yet another employee we had no say in hiring; another strong personality to try to accommodate. And she is putting me over the edge. Have I mentioned that all of this is happening in a windowless room shared by up to 6 people, with only one point of exit/entry?

Under other circumstances, Ms Jazzhead would be tolerable. But given the constant struggle we've been in with her department for the past few months, I think her eccentricities have become just one more example of the overall inconvenience this merger has been. I'm calling her Ms. Jazzhead because she declared one day "I'm so excited to have access to the University Library because I'm kinda a Jazzhead." No further explanation. I was able to infer on my own that she must like jazz music and is looking forward to checking out new music from the library.

She says random stuff like that all the time:

"Is anyone allergic to lilacs? (This is as she is walking in the room at 8:00 AM) I picked some lilacs on the way here. They make great hair flowers."

Indeed, she often wears flowers in her hair to work.

"Anyone want some cheese? (Again, at 8AM) This is my favorite cheddar."

Today I saw her pick her nose three times, at one point bringing her blouse to her face to wipe it. I'm never using the computer keyboard she was using again. There a box of Kleenex on my desk. For the love of God, help yourself.

She was wearing her headphones and no doubt listening to jazz and was bouncing in her seat to the music. Not nodding her head to the beat, but full-on chair dancing. There were glutes involved. And she is simultaneous silently scatting along with music, mouthing "Ba da da da, bah boom!" and hitting an imaginary high hat. I couldn't take it.

Another thing about this girl, every time she eats, it is as if its the first time she's eaten in a week. She scarfs her food like she's ravenous. My boss said that in the middle of meetings, she asks people if she can have some of their food. Whenever she comes over here for training, she eats any communal food that is laying around. I was watching her eat and I couldn't stand it, she wiggles her nose while she rips into the food like a predator. She looks like a rabid bunny.

I know I'm going straight to hell for feeling this way, and for sharing it here.

Tori Amos has this song called "The Waitress." The song opens with this verse:

So I want to kill this waitress

She's worked here a year longer than I

If I did it fast you know that's an act of kindness


She sings later in the song:


I want to kill this waitress

I can't believe this violence in mind

And is her power all in her club sandwich


I heard Tori Amos interviewed about the song once and she said it is about wanting to kill this co-worker (they are both waitresses). And she feels simultaneously guilty about feeling so violent towards another woman, while resenting the Waitress for making her feel that way, and astounded by the power this woman has over her.

I had a moment of clarity yesterday where I realized that Ms. Jazzhead is my Waitress.

And for the rest of the afternoon, I tried to calm myself down by singing the refrain over and over in my head:

But I believe in peace

I believe in peace Bitch

I believe in peace

I believe in peace

I also stopped at Savers on the way home and bought this cute mushroom pin for 3 dollars. That helped.

Ratty Boom-Batties!

Hopefully, Pfunk and I aren't the only ones that think adopting rats from the Humane Society is a swell idea. Turns out there is an overabundance of rats up for adoption at the Minnesota Animal Humane Society right now. It made the Star Tribune today (Thanks to ChineseTwine for the heads up on the article). Check out the "Small & Furry" Adoptees here.

I'm not sure if this is Falafel or Tabouli peeking out of Pfunk's hood.

Tabouli, continuing to use the Freshie bowl for any purpose other than food storage.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The joys of motherhood

For those of you that may have missed the blog entry introducing the rat babies, it can be read here.

Now that you're all caught up on the awesome warm fuzzies, I can dive into our dilemma. It started last week when Pfunk and I staged a major odor intervention. The awesome cage that Kelsey gave us has two levels. The rats love it and end up hanging out on the upper level most of the time. The only potential problem with the upper level is that it has a wire floor, which can cause a foot infection called bumblefoot. So Paige and I bought plastic placemats and cut them to size to fit the upper level. We then put cardboard over the mats.

This worked fine for a couple weeks until Falafel built a nest in one of the corners of the upper level. She hung out in the nest a lot, and took to both peeing and sleeping in that corner. Since Tabouli likes to do what Falafel does, she was hanging out there too. Pretty soon the rats, the cage and the apartment started smelling like pee. The pee would pool up in that corner and didn't have a chance to dry before she was already sitting in it. So much for the books that said rats won't "eliminate" and sleep in the same corner.

Hence the intervention. We ditched the solid plastic mats (and wet cardboard) entirely, re-lining the upper level with plastic cross-stitch mats (recommended in a rat care book). The cross-stitch mats still protect from bumblefoot, but allow urine to drip through. We then installed a litter box on both levels. We installed the litter box on the upper level in the corner Falafel had been using because we read it helps to put the litter box in a corner already used as a toilet. We also read that it helps when litter training rats to put the litter box in a corner and occupy all the other corners with other things. So "downstairs" in the cage, we have a litter box, nesting house, food dish and water bottle in each of the 4 corners.

We then gave the rats baths and introduced them to their newly reconfigured cage. Five days later, the cage definitely smells better than it did. BUT, there have been a few glitches. First, the rats chewed up the corners of the cross-stitch mats in less than 24 hours (see below). They don't seem to be ingesting the plastic, just chewing, but I worry they will eventually chew themselves into this small island that is safe from bumblefoot, surrounded by a sea of treacherous wire floor. Secondly, they don't seem to be taking to the litter boxes. I did what the literature said and placed as many "raisins" and wet bedding into the litter boxes as I could to help them make the connection. We also bought different litter for the boxes than the litter/bedding we use on the bottom floor in hopes that would help.

But Falafel just seems to want to reclaim that corner as her own. She sits in the litter box, just hanging out, not going to the bathroom. One day she took the pieces of litter (they look like little pebbles) in her mouth one by one and tossed them overboard. I put the litter back in. The next day, I'd see her kicking the litter out of the box with her hind legs. Again, I put the litter back, figuring she'd catch on eventually. When I came home and find any "raisins" outside the box, I toss them back in. We tried putting the rats in the litter box if we caught them going outside the box, but I'll admit that's been hard to actually do.

But today Falafel staged a full fledged mutiny while we were at work. I came home and found all of the litter on the floor outside of the cage, or elsewhere in the cage, just a few pebbles actually still in the litter box, rolling around pathetically. I took a photo of the litter strewn floor, emailed it to Pfunk with the subject line: "Falafel's verdict". Inside the email it said, "Falafel's verdict on the litter box? A big 'Fuck you!'".

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. While they are not using the litter box, someone (I suspect Tabouli) has been peeing in the Freshie bowl (the food dish we put fresh fruits and vegetable in).

So anyone in cyberspace have any advice? Are our expectations too high? Falafel and Tabouli are only two months old and we've only had them a few weeks. So we are still getting to know and trust each other. Any tricks that have worked for you? Maybe they are bored? We have a wodent wheel and igloos currently en route to our home to help with that.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

There was a lot going on at the corner of Lagoon and Hennepin

Sitting a red light today, Pfunk started giggling to herself.

Me: What's making you laugh, the big guy in the Superman shirt?

Pfunk: Nope.

Me: The old lady wearing the babushka?

Pfunk: Nope.

Me: The guy on the clown bike*?

Pfunk: Nope.

Me: The man in the Sherlock Holmes hat?

Pfunk: yep!
*A few blocks back I'd noticed a man riding a bike whose seat was way too low for him, causing me to comment that it looked like he was riding a clown bike. He caught up to us at the red light.

Friday, June 06, 2008

This is what happens when I forget my cell phone...

On my way home from work everyday, I almost always call someone and chat on my way home. I hadn't realized how much of a habit this had become until I forgot my phone at home this morning and realized it would just me and *gasp* my thought in the car for a half hour this afternoon. Somehow I ended up thinking about a baseball cap.

My girlfriend's dad recently went to a food/beverage convention in Vegas for his business and brought us back matching baseball caps. On the cap, there is a hot pink stop sign on the front that says "Warning: Girls Grilling." The side of the cap says "Grill Friends" (which looks suspiciously like Girl Friends). We thought they were kind of cute and funny, but were somewhat baffled as to why he got them for us. Especially when we found out he BOUGHT the hats. I'd assumed at first that they were free convention swag.

When friends came by our apartment recently, one of the hats was sitting out and I found myself joking about Paige's dad, making a comment along the lines of "I'm not sure what he was thinking, when would we ever wear these?".

It is a legitimate question. Neither of us wear baseball caps all that often. We hardly ever wear pink (in fact, I'd put Pfunk in the "never" category when it comes to pink). And we don't own grill. Even if we wanted to, we have no balcony or backyard to grill in.

But my flip remark about the caps ignored the excitement that he had when he gave them to us. Something about the hats made him think of us. I suppose there are two ways to interpret the "Warning: Girls Grilling" message. You could see it as sexist in the sense that grilling is seen as a man thing and therefore a woman would obviously mess it up. So you'd need advanced warning to steer clear. OR, the message could be viewed along the lines of the "You Go Girl!" pop-feminism. Stand back men, these sisters are doing for themselves. I know the hats were made, and Pfunk's dad intended the hats to be received in, the spirit of the later interpretation.

Thinking about that made me see the gift in a whole new light. I'm not really a Spice Girls "Girl Power" kind of gal. But he's trying. I remember early on in our relationship, Pfunk's dad referred to something I'd said as "man-hating." I honestly can't remember the specifics anymore, but something I'd said or done caused him to react that way. It sounds silly and maybe I'm reading too much into this, but I'm really starting to see this silly cap as validation of Pfunk and Me and our life together. We are very independent DIYers. To some degree, all lesbians have to be. There will never be a man in our house to assume the role of master griller or anything other historically “male” chore (not that I’m so na├»ve as to think all straight women in the year 2008 are relying on men to grill for them).

I realize now I want to focus on all the things Pfunk’s dad got right when we picked out those hats for us, not what he got “wrong.” This isn’t the first time I’ve humored a family member’s fumbled attempt to accept my sexual orientation. Why focus on the fumble when the whole point is they’re trying to show acceptance? Shortly after my sister starting dating the man that is now my brother-in-law, she got a taste of what it is like to come out when she told him she has a lesbian sister. I get the feeling he and his family hadn’t been around many gay people before me. Well, somewhere along the way, he heard about the phenomenon of lesbian softball players. A stereotype (like many) that has some truth to it, but that doesn’t apply to me. I did synchronized swimming in high school, possibly as far from softball as one can get. The closest I’ve been to a softball player is when I dated one in college and would read feminist theory in the bleachers when she and the team warmed up. But when my brother-in-law got me a “Chicago Women’s Softball” tee-shirt, I was totally tickled by his effort, not put off by the fact it wasn’t something I’d have chosen for myself. I wore it with pride until Pfunk, an actual softball player, claimed it as her own.

Sometimes accepting those fumbled attempts can be challenging. I remember very early on after coming out, I told my mom I was dating a woman for the first time. She said, “I’m so glad you found a favorable companion”. It was all I could do to not burst out laughing!! Gays will admit that we still haven’t settled on what to call our significant others. Girlfriend, wife, spouse, partner, significant other: it is hard to know when to use what term. Sometimes none of the terms seem satisfactory. But to have laughed at my mom in that moment would have been to ignore the positive message she was delivering, not to mention hurt her feelings and perhaps dissuade her from trying again.

But seriously, "Favorable Companion"? I don’t think that phrase will ever catch on in any community.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Here's what I wrote... a friend in Michigan today after sending her photos from the Obama Rally in St. Paul on Tuesday. Yes, I went and I got in! That is one among several blog entries I need to write.

"I really battled about whether to caucus for Obama or Clinton. I ended up caucusing for Obama, albeit hesitantly at first. A lot of my lesbian/feminist friends are/were for Hillary. I couldn't help but feel like I was somehow betraying the sisterhood by not backing the first woman with a legitimate shot at the Presidential nomination. :-) I'd love to see a woman as President, but ultimately decided gender couldn't be the sole deciding factor in who (whom?) I gave my support to. Once I took gender out of the equation, I settled on Obama as the better candidate for me.

Some of Clinton's actions in the campaign before and since the Minnesota Caucus have only reinforced my decision to go with Obama. She misled voters in Iowa and New Hampshire on Obama's record on pro-choice issues, an issue she and Obama agree on. She stirred up smoke where there was no fire to get votes. There are plenty of policies, like healthcare, that they have differing opinions on that she could've campaigned on. But she used scare tactics instead. Basically, when Obama was an Illinois Sate Senator, he voted "present" (rather than yes or no) on 7 votes regarding choice. Hillary tried to use that voting record to imply that Obama is weak on choice. What she neglected to say was that Obama voted "present" at the urging of Illinois Planned Parenthood as a strategy. Here's an article on that if you are interested.

The former head of Chicago's N.O.W. chapter actually switched support from Clinton to Obama after being forwarded a Clinton campaign mailing that went out to pro-choice NH voters. Here's her Youtube video on the matter.

And then Clinton made a remark about Farrakhan being connected to Obama's church. Again, scare tactics. And then the remark about Robert Kennedy's assassination as a reason for staying in the race. That is when she really lost me!

Of course, neither of them support gay marriage. I understand to a degree that they are playing the political game with the "marriage not ok, civil unions ok" platform, but it is still disappointing.

I'm just grateful I had the choice! You Michiganders must be so frustrated to not have had both candidates on the ballot for your primary (another questionable move by Hillary).

Even if I had been a Clinton supporter, I think I still would have gone to the Obama Rally on Tuesday. I felt part of history in the making being there. It was energizing to be with 17,000 people cheering him on (and another 15,000 watching outside that couldn't make it in the arena).

One last rant. It is one thing for Clinton not to have conceded the race on Tuesday. It is another thing to still be holding onto the quest to get the presidential nomination while simultaneously vying for V.P. I think she's put Obama in an awkward position: If he chooses Clinton as his V.P., he could be accused of cow-towing to pressure. Plus he'll have to explain how after months of saying he'd do a better job as President, he now thinks she is worthy of being V.P. But if he doesn't choose her, he could be accused of not trying to unite the party (when she's the one seemingly not uniting the party by not conceding). Sigh."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


...the newest members of our household: Our pet rats, Falafel and Tabouli.

After dogsitting for Paige's parents' dogs for a week, I started to crave a small furry being of my own. Cats were out in that I'm allergic and the last cat I owned was a bloodthirsty psycho hosebeast. Dogs are out because they aren't allowed in my building. And even if they were, it would be cruel to have a dog in an apartment so small.

So that pretty much left rodents. We eventually narrowed it down to either a guinea pig or two rats. We went to our humane society "just to look" and came home with two 8-week-old female hooded rats. Luckily, Kelsey had already given us her rat cage, rightfully sensing that we were probably going to get a rodent or two sooner than later. The girls were born into a foster home as part of an unexpected/unwanted litter and had been at the humane society for a month, so they are sisters. They were already living in a cage together and seemed to get along because they were taking a nap together under a tube when we arrived. They'd been named Doc and Snow White, but we knew we wouldn't keep those names. The one we now know as Tabouli is the one that sold us on the pair. She was curious, willing to come out of the cage and didn't bite. Falafel was a bit more skittish and nibbled on our fingertips a bit. But we knew we wanted to get two because rats are very social animals and figured we might as well get two that seemed to get along well.

Turns out first impressions may not last. Falafel is the dominant one and more outgoing. Tabouli tends to follow Falafel around, even thought Falafel sometimes pees on her and steals her treats. Occasionally, Tabouli does get fed up with Falafel bullying behavior and we catch her sitting on Falafel's head. Falafel more readily comes out of the cage for playtime. Tabouli is harder to get out of the cage and is more likely to try to hide in your shirt, sleeve or hood. Tabouli can be bold though, as she has the surprising habit of leaping between Pfunk and me when we are holding her. Falafel's initial skittishness at the shelter may not have had so much to do with her personality, as the fact that the rodents were housed in the same room as cats that were available for adoption. Which just seemed cruel to both parties involved. The rodents are constantly afraid of becoming lunch and the cats are constantly tormented by the tempting rodents over yonder. I'd say that was my only complaint about the humane society. Overall, our experience at the humane society was positive. They'd already been examined by a vet once in the shelter and we got a free visit with a shelter-recommended vet (provided we go within 14 days of the adoption, which we did).

We came up with the names on the way home. I told Pfunk about a short story I heard on This American Life about hamsters named Donut and Danish. I thought they were cute names, but didn't necessarily want to copy them. So we tried thinking up other cute food names that go together. I eventually blurted out "Falafel and Tahini." Pfunk suggested Tabouli instead of Tahini and we had our names before the car was even home from the shelter. The names have been a big hit, even with those that aren't too keen on the idea of rats. In fact, most people seem to find rats a questionable choice when we tell them about the adoption. My mom, Pfunk's mom and my sister all shudder at the sight of their "wormy" or "snake-like" tails. My friend Meghan that lives in Brooklyn said, "Maybe it is a New York thing, but I can't imagine wanting rats in my apartment." So we've been doing a lot of educating people on the differences between city/sewer rats and domesticated rats. Domesticated rats are smart, clean and smaller than feral rats. They groom themselves all the time, especially after us dirty human beings have held them. They can learn their names and to come when called and can be litter boxed trained.

Not everyone has winced at the rats. Kelsey is a big rat fan as is Pfunk's sister. I introduced the rats to my 2 year old nephew over webcam. He was very interested in the girls. My parents told me later that time I had the rats on the screen was the longest he'd sat still all day. A lot of people ask how we tell them apart. The main way we tell them apart is Falafel has a big blobbly spot on her back. Tabouli's spots on her back are smaller. They are both hooded rats, but Falafel has a "traditional" hoodie while Tabouli has a "zip-up" hoodie (she has a small white stripe running from her chin down her neck - her zipper). Tabouli also has a small spot on her belly that Falafel doesn't have.

We've already had some adventures. I'm far too trusting of the rats, resulting in one of them getting loose in the apartment on three different occasions. The first time it was Tabouli. She was freaked; I was freaked. It took me an hour to get her back in the cage and required moving most of the furniture in the living room. We also took them to the vet, where one side of the waiting room was labeled "cats," the other "dogs." I wondered aloud where the rat section was. We ended up in dogs, since cats seem the more natural enemy of rats. They were a big hit at the vet, I think simply because they see so few rodents in comparison to felines and canines. They were given a clean bill of health and Falafel only pooped on the Dr twice. Our most recent adventure was giving them baths. We staged a major invention last week. We completely remodeled the set up of their cage because we were having some odor issues. The last step of the intervention was baths. We washed them with baby shampoo in a bowl of lukewarm water. The bowl was in the bathtub, as was Pfunk, bless her heart. By the time we were done, she was completely soaked!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Good Grief!

Had a great holiday weekend. Good times were had. A BBQ at Jess's, yummy lunch at Good Earth, drag show at the 90s, saw Indiana Jones with friends, avoided tornadoes (other parts of MN weren't so lucky), dinner and dessert with Kelsey and Leaf and spent some quality time with Pfunk and our new rat babies!

We even took some time to give the apartment a thorough scrubbing. I tackled the bathroom while Pfunk did the kitchen, living room and bedroom. I know it doesn't seem fair, but I was really going to town on that bathroom (I mopped the ceiling for crying out loud). It took me as long to do the bathroom as it did for her to do the rest of the apartment.

After a great weekend, it was difficult to want to go back to work this morning. This feeling was reinforced by the fact that I really didn't sleep well last night. I woke up almost every hour all night. I hit snooze as many times as I could possibly justify and the first thing I did upon waking up was prepare a pot of coffee. Left the kitchen to get ready. Came back into the kitchen with dreams of relaxing with a cup of coffee and the internet for ten minutes before I had to leave for work.

When I saw it.

A river of coffee cascading down the countertop, the side of a cabinet and onto the floor where it was centimeters from making its way under the fridge. Fuck! Pfunk's pristine kitchen tainted and my relaxing ten minutes gone! I have a coffee maker that can either fill 2 travel mugs or a regular pot with coffee. So it has this double spout where the coffee drips from. Only one of the spouts was actually making it into the pot. Fuck!

Half a roll of paper towels later, I had mopped up the coffee off the floor before it reached the abyss under the fridge and thought my coffee catastrophe was remedied. That's when I realized that coffee had not only been running over the top of the cabinet door, but also under the cabinet door into the cabinet itself. What do I keep in said cabinet? Dishes that are easily rinsed off? Of course not. No, it is where I keep my art supplies. Fuck!

At first I thought the coffee was only on the very edge of the top shelf. Realized pretty quickly it was soaking a bunch of materials, including paper and books, on both shelves. Everything on both shelves had to be taken out (getting coffee on the floor I had just finished cleaning). At which point I ran out of paper towels and discovered my girlfriend had moved the extra paper towels when she was cleaning and I had no idea where they were. I think it was at this point that I actually threw a temper tantrum. I literally clenched my fists and jumped up and down while screaming "Fuck. Are you fucking kidding me?!?".

After my little pity party, I got my wits about me. I remembered there were more paper towels in the linen closet. I threw away the really soggy stuff and tossed the rest in the sink to sort through later. Everything else was strewn about the floor and kitchen table while I left the cabinets open to air out. I kissed Pfunk goodbye, who had wisely stayed in bed despite waking up from the sound of my curses. I implored her to ignore the state of the kitchen with promises that I'd take care of it after work, and left for the office.

Not a great start to what is essentially a Monday morning given that yesterday was Memorial Day.

One bonus to this whole fiasco: In the midst of hurling my art supplies willy nilly across the kitchen, I uncovered some 21 Jumpstreet trading cards mixed with with some paper. As it turns out, Pfunk just ordered Season One of 21 Jumpstreet off of Netflix. So I stuck the trading cards on the inside of her locker as a surprise.