Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey porn

Let's see what kind of hits that title gets, shall we?

In a recent exchange with Asthmagirl out on the left coast, we considered various and sundry ways to prepare a turkey for the table. She brines hers the day before. I never have, but do not rule out trying it some time. It didn't happen this year, though.

What did happen is that turkey dropped to 40 cents a pound at the local supermarket, so we splurged on a 22.7 pound buzzard. The thing was monstrous! It weighed more than our cat and dog combined! It was damned big!

I was so excited about the turkey, I fairly danced it home.

Then I sat down and did the math. Experts say you should cook a stuffed turkey 20 minutes for each pound (that is: what it weighs before you stuff it). hum. That means an hour for each three pounds. 21 pounds means 7 hours. 1.7 pounds extra means about a half-hour to forty more minutes. Dinner is supposed to be on the table at 1, bird's gotta rest a half hour before I carve it, so that means it should come OUT of the oven at 12:30 , so counting backwards that means... oh shit. The bird has to go INTO the oven at approximately 4:45 a.m.

Suddenly, this was not as much fun as it had seemed.

I am not now nor have I ever really been a morning person.

Mornings are reserved for slow movement, generous application of coffee and slow perusal of online newspapers, not wrestling with a naked, wet bird at O-Dark-Thirty.


I set the alarm for 4 a.m. and rolled out at the second ring. It was indeed quite dark. I stumbled to the kitchen, trying to be quiet so as not to wake Laura (our bedroom is right off the kitchen).

I started the wild rice mixture boiling in two cans of vegetable broth plus a can of water. It looked like this:

Then I got out the vegetables I had prepared the night before. I use chopped onions, celery, carrots and baby bella mushrooms.

When the rice was about HALF COOKED - and still a little sloppy, I poured it into a large bowl and added the veggies and some seasonings - this morning it was just over 1/2 a box of Bell's poultry seasoning, some black pepper, some sea salt, and 1/4 cup dried savory. I know, savory is not a typical poultry seasoning, but I like the way it works. When I stirred it all around, it looked like this:

When I took Tom out of his wrapper, I have to say I was a little disappointed. I mean all his parts were there - giblets and neck and all, but it seemed that our buzzard might have been banged around a bit in his travels from farm to slaughterhouse to grocery to our home. There were a few small tears in his skin on his wings and a large one near the big cavity (you'll see in a minute). In short, Tom looked as though he might have been mugged at some point in his travels. He was in one piece, but a little battered. Oh well, at o-dark-thirty on Thanksgiving morning, there really isn't anyone to call and complain to, so I made the best of it and kept going.

Now to stuff a turkey can be a difficult thing. Stuffing it solo, without the benefit of coffee, well, that's just hazardous. I dug out my grandmother's beef stew pan and stuck Tom in it with his neck end up and proceeded to pack as much of the sloppy wet rice and vegetable mixture as I could into that orifice. It looked like this:

Then I stitched the opening closed using a single skewer and a sewing kind of method. It looked vaguely Frankenstein-ish, but it kept the rice from falling out, so I call it good. It looked like this:

Then I turned Tom ass-over-end and found a problem. He had a tear. Not a tear in his beer, but a tear - a badass rip if the truth be known - in his skin from the opening where the stuffing goes to about the spot directly over the knee of his drumstick. The hole looked like this:

Hmmm. Tricky business. I stuffed him as much as I could in that position, but then tipped him on end again and stuck him in the stew pot so he didn't flop over. Then I stitched up the tear with another skewer like I did his backside (or neckside, actually) and it looked like this:

I finished stuffing him and then closed the skin flap opening in the normal manner, with skewers and string lacing. I forgot to get a picture of the lacing, but I bet you can figure out what it looked like.

Next, I prepared the paint for the outside of the bird. I used about a half to three-fourths cup of mayonnaise, the rest of the Bell's, some paprika, cayenne and garlic powder. It looked like this:

That's the pot with the neck and giblets in it that I simmered on the stove for hours to make stock for the gravy. Mixed together, the mayo paint looks like this:

I painted the underside of the bird with a two-inch pastry brush. It goes on like this:

Once I got the bottom painted, I flipped him over and placed him in the rack in the roasting pan. Then he looked like this:

So I painted the top, then tucked his wings underneath and he looked like this:

The stitched up end where the stuffing went in now looks like this:

Then we endured cooking-turkey smells for 7+hours. When Tom came out of the oven, the mayo had crisped up on the skin and was mostly ready to flake off. It doesn't always look good, but the result is delicious. Here's is "after" shot:

Then we served lunch/dinner buffet-style:

The back row, from left to right in a kind of jagged line are: mashed turnip, peas, carrots, white turkey meat, dark turkey meat. Next row down: rice stuffing from inside the bird, mashed potatoes, mashed buttercup squash with brown sugar, mashed sweet potatoes Last: boiled onions over there on the left. Not pictured: bread stuffing (from a box) and a bowl of the rice stuffing that was NOT in the bird (for our vegetarian), pitcher of gravy (not boat; pitcher - we don't mess around!), plus smooth and whole berry varieties of cranberry jelly.

After the bird was in the oven this morning, I went back to bed for three hours. It was utterly divine. Last night while doing prep work, I made as much of today's stuff ahead as I could. I cooked four pies: custard, (vegetarian) mince, apple, pecan. (A pumpkin pie came with the basket from the food pantry.) I cooked all my mashed stuff and put them in casseroles for reheating today: potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, turnip, and the bread stuffing. But because the refrigerator was filled with a 22.7 pound turkey, we had to stash all of that food in the trunk of Laura's car in the yard. The night air kept it cool and the car kept the raccoons out. Today when I began cooking, all I had to do was cook the carrots, peas and onions, and make the gravy. One of our guests wanted to help, so I set her to stirring the gravy, and it came out the best of any gravy I think I have ever made. It was delicious. And smooth. Not a single lump. Yay!

Now for the explanation of the rice stuffing. First, I like the rice mixture better than the wet bread variety. I don't much care for wet bread, although sometimes I will succumb to its call. I like to put the rice in half-cooked so it can continue to steam the bird from the inside, and so the bird can flavor the rice. At least that's my theory. And the best part is when I make soup from the carcass. I boil down the carcass like you do to make soup, I fish out the bones and nasty bits, pick the meat off the bones and put it into the soup, dump in the leftover vegetables, and then I put the leftover rice stuffing into the soup. Oh, man. It adds so much flavor and texture - it's wonderful! Oh, I also pour in the leftover gravy, too, so that makes the soup even more wonderful. I think I'll make soup on Friday or maybe Saturday - and freeze some for later in the winter. There is nothing like hearty turkey and wild rice soup on a snowy nasty day in February.

Dinner and pies have been consumed. Dishes and pans and more silverware than I knew we owned have been washed and stacked to dry. A turkey sandwich - toasted Canadian White bread with mayo, ground black pepper, turkey, cranberry sauce and bacon - has been eaten. The dog got bacon grease and some turkey liver in her kibble this evening. All is well here. We have virtually no money, but we have plenty of leftovers to hold us for a while, good company in the person of my aunt, who is up for the weekend from Massachusetts, and the memory of a wonderful dinner spent with friends. Oh, and we sent out a couple TV-dinners for a friend who is nursing a sick partner. With a whole plate of slices of pie. Because caregivers need pampering too. Now I am off to find my bed and hibernate until morning, when my alarm goes off at a much more reasonable time than 4.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009


under the wire? I hope so, even if it is this lame.

NaBloPoMo, you are so screwing up my world, I swear. This happens again, I'm going to let midnight come and go. Oh well.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Food porn

Have adapted a recipe I found on line for a thing I love made locally in Portland, Maine by one of my favorite sushi chefs.

The magical thing is called a Spicy Scallop Roll.

It involves the normal sheet of nori, rice spread out on it, and fish laid down and then rolled up, but in this instance, the fish is cooked.

The recipe I have here should make 6 to 8 normal sized rolls.

1 pound bay scallops (or you can use the big ones if you feel like spending the extra cash)
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon (or more) cayenne
1/4 teaspoon sri racha (or more to taste)

Clean and chop the scallops

Mix the mayo and the spices, and mix that into the scallops, tossing to make sure they are all coated.

Put them in a shallow pan and pop them min the broiler for five minutes or so until they are cooked and a little bubbly on top.

Remove from oven and allow to cool a little. Prepare your nori sheets with rice. Divide the scallops up and spread like you would a regular sushi roll, then roll up tight and cut into six or eight pieces. Plate the pieces and top with the extra bits of scallops that fell out the ends as you rolled it up.

There are six rolls in the above picture. The large circles in the middle are tuna rolls with avocado and the smaller circles at either end are the spicy scallop rolls. I rolled them, and it's a little tricky to roll large rolls of material that is chopped. Our friend M made the tuna rolls.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Perhaps I mis-spoke

Hmmm. In the past, I have said that writing fiction is too difficult for me. Non fiction is the stuff, I'd say. I was a reporter for too long to make stuff up when I write. Gotta be real. Gotta be accurate. No funny stuff. Grr.

Well, now I am in a writing project that is pure non-fiction.

And it sucks turkey giblets.

(How's that for an image?)

I decided that my opinion was worth listening to, and I managed to convince a few other people that I might have something of value to say, so I have a date with some pretty smart people set up for next week. Where I will tell them what I think. Without using cuss words, if possible.

To prepare for this adventure, my beloved has compiled scads and scads of data. She has created spreadsheets that would arouse the freakiest of accountants. Wait. That sounded way stranger than I had planned. But damn, it's good enough that I am going to leave it in. Just because.

So anyway, to accompany these scads of spreadsheets and oodles of data, I thought it might be wise to have a narrative to explain what the circles and arrows are all about. (Apologies to Mr. Guthrie.)

Only, for the first time in my life, I am jammed up writing. I can't get the damned thing down on the page. I can tell it out loud, I can explain it over nachos at a restaurant, and draw maps of congressional districts in crayon on the back of a place mat, but sit at the computer and type it out? Not so much.

My solution? I have two extremely devoted assistants (thanks, Laura and Louise!) who allowed me to dictate my rant into various and sundry recording devices so they could transcribe it, so I could combine it, and now I have nine pages when what I need is three.

So now I am going through, eliminating the duplications, cleaning up the data and citations, and generally doing some kind of damage to my frontal cortex every time I bang my head against the table.

Perhaps when this is done, I might share it. Perhaps I might not. It might be classified as top-secret super-duper political strategy material meant only for the eyes of those at the highest levels of queer political leadership.

Or, like in my newspaper days, someone will use it to train a puppy shortly after they looked at the pictures. You can't tell.

But what I can tell you is that this dry kind of non-fiction stuff is miserable, miserable writing. There is no room for humor, no room for sarcasm, no room for soul, and barely any room for passion. Gah. I wish we had a tub so I could soak in it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

duh! I could have done this earlier!

Back just after the election, I was interviewed by a woman named Amy from our nearby community radio station, WERU in East Orland, Maine. She interviewed me on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 4. To say I was a little burned out and sad is the understatement of the year.

Well, as it turns out, I sounded pretty good - at least enough that she could edit and get the non-crying bits to sound worth-while. She submitted her story to a nationally syndicated program called This Way Out, and they used it in their weekly radio magazine for the week of Nov. 11.

They used a clip of what I said at the very beginning, as a teaser, then they go into a bunch of news from around the country and the world, and then they come back to the main stories, of which Maine was the lead story. My interview with Amy lasts about 2 or 3 minutes and I think it went pretty well. You be the judge, though.

As I seem unable to embed an MP3 file, here is the link to download the file so you can hear the program:

Oh, and if anyone can tell me how to embed an MP3 file, you know how to reach me. Thanks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Oops. I made an error the other day.

In the post where I complain about glbt stuff disappearing from the White House Website, I was wrong. It's still there. It just does not seem as huge as it once appeared.

And the chairman of the Democratic National Committee is Tim Kaine, otherwise known as the invisible/silent man for the low profile he keeps.

Another busty day and I'm pooped. This is all you get. Sorry.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


OK, so I haven't been doing much physical work for the past, oh ... six months, I think? But let me tell you - I hurt today.

Yesterday I built 80% of a shelf/entertainment center for a customer, and today I did a half-day of garden work, followed by a couple more hours at the business end of a leaf-blower.

Now my arms are rubbery and my hands don't want to grab things and hold on with any kind of reliability.

Damn. This working for a living is rough stuff.

More coming tomorrow, too, and Thursday, and again on Friday. I'll be lucky if I can drink out of a cup without using a straw by the weekend. Wow.

I'm off to bed. The NaBloPoMo gods have been appeased for another day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

fishy lessons

lessons learned recently:

1. five sushi rolls, even (or perhaps especially) the home-made kind, per person, is too many.

2. it does not take much fish to fill a sushi roll.

3. like even a half pound of raw fish will fill two very hungry people.

4. that spicy sauce they put on the scallops is wicked easy to make.

5. even light soy will make me very, very thirsty.

6. our cat does not like raw fish, but the dog will tip over the trash can to get at the tiniest sliver of raw fish in the deepest, darkest corners of its recesses.

7. ice cream after sushi requires at least a 60-minute waiting period, like before you can swim after eating.

8. nori paper is perhaps the handiest stuff ever, however freakish the science behind it.

9. do not rub your eyes after handling pickled ginger.

10. or wasabi.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

post your comments please

It feels like I hit a wall today.

I was energized and fired up about a bunch of stuff and now I am pooped.

We had an informal post-mortem on the campaign today at a local pol's house, and it seems like we all were in agreement on the basic things that went well, went not-so-well, and what we'd like to do better with in the future. I think it was good to have such a meeting, and I wonder if other groups in the state did the same thing.

I am so tired tonight. I don't know why, but I am. I was fired up and now I'm spent. I guess I just am going to tire more easily for a while. Oh well. Forgive this lame post, but I met my NaBloPoMo obligation and now I'm going to bed.

Oh, if you are so inclined, this fun thing has been flying around on facebook. If you and I woke up in a jail cell together, in FOUR WORDS ONLY, what would you say? Post 'em in the comments section, if you would, please. I need a laugh.

Friday, November 13, 2009

A day for milestones

This felt like a day for milestones.

Bernie passed this morning from this realm into some other. Rest in peace, Bernie. We will do our best to carry the message as you showed us how to do it.

Laura and I have been compiling some numbers and studying them and developing some strategy ideas for how we can do better with glbt issues at the ballot in Maine's Second Congressional District. I've got some ideas and some rough sketches of a plan, and I have secured a meeting with some of the campaign leadership to offer these ideas and strategies for consideration. I am working in channels now. It's kinda scary, to be honest. It's not generally my style.

Our friends Dan and Tyrrell are moving to Bozeman, Montana, of all places, and tonight was their going-away party. Lots and lots of friends and neighbors turned out to wish them well, nearly all I recognized from one house party or another. It felt like half party, half wake. There were lots of hugs and "I'm so sorry"s from everyone, including Dan and Ty. They have been a powerful and influential force for progressive politics in this little section of Maine and they will be sorely missed.

I went to my Friday night meeting after the dinner and heard some good stuff. It feels good to have gone to meetings on each of the last four nights. It sort of feels like I am going to the spiritual and mental chiropractor. The kinks are getting worked out, things are coming back into alignment, and I am feeling better all over.

Now here are a couple of things I want you to watch. There are two videos, they're not that long, but they had to be split up because of the YouTube time limits. Please watch. Many of these people are my friends. The footage is all from the Portland area and was filmed in the last 24 to 48 hours of the campaign.

And now that you've watched, if you're a registered Democrat, it would be nice if you could send a note to both of the following entities. And please write it out, PRINT IT OUT and MAIL IT. E-mails disappear. Written letters on paper must be noted, opened and saved. This is important enough to spend 44 cents on a stamp, for crying out loud.

So please write to President Obama at:

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Switchboard: 202-456-1414
FAX: 202-456-2461

Comments: 202-456-6213
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121

And you might want to mention that there is no longer a GLBT page on the White House issues page. There was one when he got elected. There is no longer anything about the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act or that dumb-ass Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy. Where the hell did our "fearless advocate" go? Hmm?

And to the Democratic National Committee at:
Democratic National Committee
430 S. Capitol St. SE
Washington, DC 20003

Main Phone Number:

I thought equality was a solid plank in the Democratic party platform. You're happy to take our money and use our volunteers, but what have you done for me lately?? I mean besides take my money and then ignore me.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I hate deadlines

especially when I don't have enough time between remembering one and hitting that same deadline to write something terribly witty and clever.

Which, of course, is what I prefer to do.

Witty and clever are easy for me. I like the easy stuff. Blood and guts and fear and vulnerability? Eeeeeeessssshhhhhhh, that's tough stuff.

Last year when I did this NaBloPoMo thingitz, I set the bar exceedingly high. The Seven Deadly Sins. The seven Virtues. Oh, and there was a presidential election in there, plus an assortment of things that gave me ample fodder for the copy factory that is my keyboard.

This year, I have yet to find that muse. We just came off a campaign that ate my summer and my life. I stuck my head into it in July and woke up last week wondering where all the leaves had gone. Fishing season is over, too, I understand. Damn.

The truth is, I just don't have the energy level this year that I had last year. Maybe if we won I'd have more zip, I don't know. My gut tells me that I'd be this tired even if we'd won. Although I could be boring you all with wedding plans.

Louise from Pam's House Blend came up yesterday and we had a marvelous visit. She brought home-made pickles and apple butter and fudge and we all went out to lunch at Geddy's and got the nachos on a hubcap and then to Ben & Bill's to buy goodies for the folks back home and then a short tour through the park. We stopped at Thunder Hole, which was not thundering at all (low tide) and we showed her where those people got washed off the rocks into the ocean, and we saw some deer and some nature and it was good.

We laughed and cried a little; over lunch we talked politics and Maine stories and discussed our experiences gutting deer. The young hetero couple at the next table barely blinked. I do love a small, rural town. We talked some more about politics, and came up with some ideas that have had Laura and I doing research and data entry and trying to coalate things so that I can look at them and get what I need easily. I've got some ideas for future campaigns, but I want to have them properly organized before I offer them for public consumption. Stay tuned, though. I'll share them here eventually.

Today I worked, sort of. I did a bunch of prep work and made ready for a nice little project that I think will make the customers very happy. I'll try to take pictures if I can remember, and post them here.

Gads but I wish I had more time to be witty, but I don't. I need to hit publish soon or I won't get to win the zillion-dollar grand prize for having posted every day for a month. Right. I'm planning on that money to retire to an island where there is warm sun, blue sky, blue ocean, white sand, palm trees and scantily clad women. Ahem. Right. Or maybe just pay off my student loans. That'd be nice.

OK. That's what you get today. We'll try again tomorrow for brilliance, but I make no promises.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

an old friend

Went to a meeting at the hospital tonight. It's not one I usually go to, but I went, and it was good. Got to hear a newbie talk for the first time, and that was rewarding. I remember her first meeting all those months ago, and I remember seeing her off and on since then. I had to confess, though, that I did not realize it had been eight months. I thought it had maybe been three or four. Seems I stuck my head in the campaign and woke up last week wondering where all the leaves on the trees had gone.

After the meeting, three of us women went upstairs to visit an old guy from the program who is not well.

Bernie is a great guy. He has brain cancer. It's terminal. It's been bad for a while now. I think they keep him pretty heavily sedated so he doesn't try to move around too much and injure himself. But he was alert when we got there. Some of his adult kids were there, sort of milling and foot-shifting and not knowing quite what to do. They seemed stunned by the sheer number of people who are streaming into their father's room, expressing their love and moving on. The were kind enough and generous enough to step out for a few minutes so we could each have a moment with Bernie. They cautioned us that he really couldn't talk, and that he was very sleepy and seemed to not always recognize people.

My friend C was the first to go to him. She got close to his face so he could see, took his hand and spoke his name. His eyes opened and there was a familiar spark. The corners of his mouth turned up just the slightest bit. He knew her. They shared a few moments and then I took a turn at his bedside. I was thrilled to see the recognition in his eyes.

"I love you Dawn," he said.

I nearly fell over.

I held his hand and kissed his forehead.

Daring not to linger, I passed my turn off to M, the member of our small troupe with the shortest amount of sobriety. She remembers Bernie some, but he has sort of fallen off the radar for the past few months as his health has steadily declined. His eyes sparkled, though. M is pretty. And Bernie, well, let's just say he has always had a way with pretty girls. Always respectful and sweet, that respectfulness and sweetness got him more attention and affection than any strutting lewdness by younger, cockier men. M leaned over and kissed my aging friend, and he positively beamed through his gray grizzles of a beard.

He might be terminally ill, but he is neither dead nor stupid. Have I mentioned that I adore Bernie? Yeah. He's my bud.

M and C went out in the hall to talk with the family members, and somehow I ended up back at Bernie's bedside. I held his hand and his grip was strong. His eyes found mine and sparkled. He couldn't really talk much, so I talked to him instead. I talked about how we always seemed to meet of a workday lunchtime at the local really bad Chinese restaurant and how we always were glad to share a table and conversation. I talked about how I used to love talking with him about this engineering disaster or the other (he is an electrical engineer), how people built towers in the dumbest places imaginable, and how summer people really have no business trying to fix their own homes. We talked about contractors who cut corners, and ones that did things right, and we solved many a construction dilemma over plates of shrimp with lobster sauce (his) and Szechuan chicken (mine).

I told him he needed to get a prettier nurse (the nurse on at the time was a man) and his eyes blinked his agreement.

I told him that he had some fine children and that they seemed to care for him a great deal. I told him that he'd done good, and he blinked his appreciation. It was the long, slow blink of a man who has spent a long time wanting to reconcile with his kids after drinking for so many years. Bernie's been sober a long time now, but when kids are young and Dad's an alcoholic, well, some wounds take a very long time to heal. For his kids to be there means an awful lot to him. It also probably tells him that he is nearing the end of his time in this world. Especially if they're all there, even at 9 p.m., and the nurse was making arrangements for reclining chairs so they could spend the night by his side.

I bent low and told him that I had to go and that he should probably rest some and spend some time with his kids. He squeezed my hand one more time while I kissed him and told him that I loved him, and as I let go his hand, his gaze shifted to his children in the room.

What a gift that was. To see Bernie one more time. I was afraid I was going to come back to meetings after this campaign and learn of his funeral some two weeks previous.

What a blessing it was to have him recognize me and speak to me. To share some warm memories. Wow.

My heart is at once full and hollow.

Blessed be Bernie. May your journey be gentle, however long it takes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

little bits

Money is still tight, but it seems to have slightly less of a stranglehold on my world right now. I got paid for that cellar clean-out, which is nice. We can pay the cable/Internet/phone bill now and see if they'll come fix the damned cable box so it doesn't sound like it's inhabited by crazed squirrels. No audio makes for tough watching on football Sundays. We can also get some heating oil, which will be nice. And maybe pay back one friend who lent us money last month for rent.

I did some writing this morning in my journal. Journal writing for me is very different from what I write here. Here I know I have an audience (all both of you, bless your devoted little hearts), but in my journal, I write for me. Sometimes it is like a meditation, sometimes it is like a prayer. I try to do some exploration, and I allow myself to write in a free-form, flowing style much like that old "stream of consciousness" stuff we played with in years past. What I write here is thinned by my internal filters. You get the funny stuff, the witty stuff, the sarcastic and zippy stuff, but not the vulnerable stuff. Not the scared stuff. Not the really, really scared stuff, the shame, the self-doubt, the insecurities, the negative stuff voiced by the chorus of demons that are my alcoholic thinking, my dysfunctional upbringing, and the sometimes hostile world in which I live.

I can dig pretty deep here, and get pretty honest, but the stuff I write before I have my first cup of coffee is the stuff you don't even dare whisper aloud in the dark. It is the stuff I keep hidden from myself, and it scares me sometimes to even put it on a page. After that first cuppa joe hits, the really intimate stuff fades back to the interior and hides. The witty stuff comes out to shine and get the attention. And the writing gets just a little bit less real. Less close to the bone. Less dangerous.

So this morning? Well, this morning I got started on that financial step work stuff I talked about yesterday. The thing that is scaring me is the personal inventory I need to take, where I look at my behaviors and my feelings and figure out what is worth keeping and what needs to be thrown out. When I was ready to do this step with regards to my alcoholism, my sponsor at the time said to me "all you have to do is be ready to change everything about yourself."

That's huge. Everything about myself is, well, everything about myself. My identity is what it is. It is how I define myself, for good or bad. To look at the parts of my life as they pertain to my financial mental health and discover that big hunks of stuff really have to go, well, that's a scary proposition.

I did it with my previous inventory, and while I did change some things about myself, I don't think I actually really changed everything about myself. I think maybe I changed a whole lot about my behavior and how I think and feel, and I suppose that might seem like a lot, but from where I sit, I am still me. I have not changed my identity. I am a new version of me, not a different person. I guess I can have faith that this new inventory thing that I am doing will have a similar effect upon me. I can look forward to a new version of me. And I guess I can handle that. We'll see what tomorrow's writing session brings for me...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday, some steps, and money issues

Up early, swallowed some pride, got some help, did an estimate, offered some advice, did a favor for a friend, had a nice visit and yummy lunch, and headed home. Over all, not a bad day. Tomorrow will hold some similar kinds of plans. Probably some humility in the morning, followed by some work stuff, and then some recovery work. Not much glory on the agenda, but that's okay.

I find that I am still healing. I told some friends today about some of the support I got to my blog posts in the past week, about how Jen in Denver lit a candle at the same time we were having a candle-light church service here, and I started to cry. I didn't fight it, just told the story, let the tears flow, and mopped up when I was done. It seems to be going that way. I am not fighting the feelings. Which for me is a pretty big deal. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to avoid my feelings, so just letting them be is remarkable.

I have some work to do on myself these days. I need to address my relationship with money. It is a huge scary thing for me to undertake. I need to apply the same kind of effort to this endeavor as I do to my sobriety. I am tired of being broke. I am tired of owing people. I am tired of the anxiety associated with this stuff. I dearly hope I have had enough. I need to apply the tools I learned in my recovery program to the problem at hand. I need to come to grips with what I am powerless over and what I am not, I need to know where and how to ask for help, and then I need to do that. And then I need to take areal and meaningful inventory of my behavior and feelings around money. It's going to be a big job, but it needs doing and each day that passes is more time I spend on the unhealthy side of this equation. And I would like to think I have had enough of that.

I also need to deal with this stuff if I am going to have any credibility when it comes to being a financial fund raiser. How can I tell members of a church or a non-profit how to raise money, how to be transparent, how to get over their shame and secrecy issues when it comes to money if I am unable or unwilling to discuss my own affairs frankly? If I am going to seriously think about creating a business where I help groups and organizations raise money, I need to be able to speak honestly and with integrity and authority.

So, tomorrow I start anew on this journey. That's the plan. I shall report as I am able. It may or may not prove to be compelling reading, we'll have to see what I discover.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

counting my blessings

The past week has been rough, that is certain. But I am beginning to be able to put some things in perspective.

Five years ago, if anyone had asked me about the possibility of seeing gay marriage become a reality in Maine, I'd have said "not in my lifetime." Tuesday last week, over a quarter of a million Maine voters cast ballots in favor of just such a concept. That is amazing.

I am trying to get back on track now, and I have a few little jobs that are coming together. I don't have a ton of work, but I have a few things lined up, and the skills to do them. I am blessed in that regard. I have a multitude of talents that I can use to earn my keep.

We don't have any money, this is true. In fact, I have an appointment tomorrow morning with the church food pantry. Not to sign up as a volunteer or a coordinator or fundraiser, but as a client. You can imagine how much pride I had to swallow to make that call. But, I am blessed to know how to reach out for help when I need it. And right now I need it. I knew things were getting tight toward the end of the campaign, and since it's over, we've had to take stock of things and the truth of the matter is, we need help. I am grateful that I have the clarity to recognize this. I am also grateful that I am able to work past the shame I feel about asking for help. If people didn't need help at times, organizations would not be created to serve that need. My goal is to work as hard as I can to get to a place where we won't need this help as soon as we can. And perhaps to address my need for prepositional phrases.

I know how to cook and how to be creative on a budget. We will not go hungry, nor will we have to eat gruel. We may have to make adjustments, but we will not suffer as badly as some have or will.

And I am exceedingly grateful for Laura. She has been my rock through this campaign. She has worked phone bank nights while I did house parties. She set up my laptop with the commercials on a continuous loop and left me very simple instructions on how to make it go. She encouraged me when I needed it and brought me down to earth when I got a little over-inflated. She has been wonderful. And yesterday, when I needed to get away, we went. We visited a friend far away, had a marvelous time and then drove home again today. In all, we're out a tank of gas and a couple bags of groceries, which perhaps we could ill afford, but the good that escape did to my spirit is immeasurable. She knows what I need and will do what it takes to see that I get it. I am truly blessed.

And I have a little dog who is a real rock star. She reminds me daily of what unconditional love looks like and what is important each day: breakfast, snuggles, taking care of business, and enthusiasm for each task as it presents itself.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

time for some r and r

We're headed south to visit a friend. It's just an overnight trip, and on our budget, we won't spend much more than gas money, so that's good. But we need this little break. It may or may not be written up elsewhere. We'll see. Right now my concern is getting all the appropriate stuff jammed into an overnight bag and remembering all the pieces to my c-pap so I can sleep through the night. Quinn will come with us - she has friends to visit as well. Big, dopey, awkward, gawmy friends, but friends nonetheless. Now I am off to pack our gear. Will check in again tomorrow. Happy Saturday, everyone.

Friday, November 6, 2009

funny how it works out

I went to a meeting tonight - for the first time in a very, very long time. It felt good to sit in the metal folding chair and sip instant cocoa from a Styrofoam cup, even if it was in the basement of a Catholic Church. I was there for my 12 step group, not to genuflect and do the rosary. I got asked to chair the meeting, and I'm not sure why, but I was ready to do it.

I did the normal things one does when chairing a meeting: talk about what it was like before alcohol, what it was like when I drank, what happened, and what it's like now living sober. Standard spiel. And then I talked a little bit about this mourning process I am in. How this has been a tough week for me, how I am hurting, but working through it. I can be healthy and still be in pain. I have no regrets about what I did. I gave everything I had. I put everything I possibly could into the campaign, and it turns out that this time, it was not enough to win. I can't get married. I cried. I didn't whine or carry on, I didn't accuse anyone of anything. I talked about how I felt and how I was dealing with it, and how drinking sure as hell was not going to make anything better.

And I got enormous support. Lots of the people there knew I was working on the campaign. Some didn't. One or two might even have voted yes. I noticed that they did not approach me after the meeting like the others did. By and large, though, the vast majority were wonderfully supportive and sympathetic. My wise and ancient sponsor (he's my "auxiliary" sponsor, we've decided) made a special point to come up to me and tell me to call him. I will do that. He is a wonderful man. An Elder in every sense of the word, not just in his Penobscot Nation heritage. One of the original guys who started meetings on the island years and years ago, he's got 30-some years of sobriety and the wisdom of generations. I must make it a point to see him.

But what I notice now, after coming home to comfy clothes, a cup of tea and two medicinal cupcakes, is how nurtured I feel. One meeting, and I feel back into it. I fell back into the rhythm and cadence, I looked around the room and knew all the faces, and was able to feel all the love.

And that just struck me. I was able to feel all the love in that room tonight.

That is different for me.

Usually I can see it, but I don't always feel it. Tonight I felt it.

And I was not afraid of it.

Oh wow. This is the difference that HAI weekend has made.


I could see love, accept it, welcome it and feel it.

Without concern over any one's motives.

That is huge. More than I can possibly describe.

I've got to figure some way for us to be able to make it to the Level 2 weekend in December. Crap. Gotta gotta gotta.

We did Level 1 back at the beginning of October. It was intense, and wonderful and enlightening, but until just this moment, I had not seen a real, tangible example of how it had changed how I relate to people. Wow.

Gotta go digest this.

Back tomorrow.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

tired of crying, but apparently not done yet

Tuesday night was heartbreaking.

Wednesday felt like the day before a funeral. People called all day, sent e-mails, chatted on facebook and left notes here on my blog. One asshat was classy enough to leave an anonymous note "Losah". I left it there.

This is what we were up against. Anonymous jerks who prefer to snipe from the shadows and write hateful things on websites and yard signs. Gotta take real guts to run over a paper sign. That'll show everyone what kind of man you are. Pissant.

The loss has been devastating. We poured our hearts and souls into this campaign. We took the high road. We did not bring up the sins and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church trying to take any kind of moral high ground after raping children and covering it up for a hundred years. We did not attack our attackers. We stood our ground, spoke our truth and fought a clean fight.

They lied and spread fear. They made accusations about us wanting to indoctrinate children and of conspiracy theories that would make the Roswell crowd blush. And we took the high road.

And you know what? If there is any fault to be found in our side, it might be that we were too polite. We did not point to abusive priests and the bishop who covered up for them and paid off victims. We did not call out the lies as LIES, but used words like "misleading" and "not true."

When it all boils down, we won the urban and coastal counties and lost the inland, rural vote. And Lewiston/Auburn, Maine's largest center of Franco-American Catholics, well, they voted against us in record numbers. It was harsh. The Catholic Church that just put churches up for sale, closed a bunch of schools around the state, bulldozed a beautiful Gothic stone church because it was getting too expensive to heat, and continues to protect priests who raped children entrusted into their care, told people how to vote and they did. It boggles my mind. What part of Christian charity is this? To deny people access to dignity and security? I don't understand.

And what hurt the worst was seeing the joy and celebration when the numbers were announced. The were so happy. How can you be happy to be so mean? so cruel? I don't understand.

We had a service at the UU church in Ellsworth last night. I wasn't convinced I was going to need/want/benefit from such a thing, but Laura wanted to go, and Leela was going to the effort, so we went. It was enormously cathartic. Leela and Wayne (music director) both held me as I sobbed and sobbed. We were all aching and raw and hurting and we came together and held each other and it was good.

When I went to bed last night, my eyes were puffy and red from a day of crying. When I woke this morning, they were dry and sore, but better. Today we worked a little bit - cleaning out a cellar. Just the kind of mindless work I need right now. Lift and heave. Tote and toss. Shovel and sweep. Bring it all to the dump and reverse the process. Good stuff, this manual labor. Although this evening my arms were all rubbery and weak. I wasn't prepared to find that I was so badly out of shape. Apparently a political campaign, wrapping up with 9 days of the flu and followed by two days of emotional hell was sufficient to do damage to my muscles. I'm sore tonight, but at least I have identified the cause.

And then I was chatting on line with this group I like, and this guy was making insensitive and obnoxious statements about why must gay people always flaunt their sexuality. The moderators tossed him out on his ass, but not before I was trembling and sobbing at my computer. I was surprised and horrified at the strength of my reaction. It overwhelmed me in an instant. I had no control. I was simply reduced to a sobbing heap. Again.

You all know me pretty well by now. Being a sobbing heap is not something I generally make a habit of doing. But in the past two days, it seems to have blossomed into a real talent of mine.

I don't know what I need or want right now. Except maybe the patience of people around me. If I am crying, just let me be. Don't tell me it's all right, because it's not. It hurts. It sucks and it hurts and it is NOT all right. It will get better, I know that. But I don't need you to tell me that while I'm crying. Just let me feel it, experience it, and get through it. And it's not likely to be pretty or graceful. Too bad if you can't handle that. I can't really handle it either, so we're even. If I wave you off and say please, don't touch me, that means please don't touch me. Don't hug me if I don't want to be hugged. If I am able to accept touch, I'll reach out or present myself in such a way that you will know. If I am unable to accept touch, it will likely be because I am teetering on the edge of total collapse. I prefer to do my total collapses privately, with one or two very close friends, not in public. If I wave you off, I mean it. To touch me after that will be a violation. Please respect my boundaries, both physical and emotional. If I don't want to talk about it, let's talk about football please. Or those rat bastards the New York Yankees. Or the price of heating oil, or what job you'd like me to do for you. If I want to talk about the election, please let me, even if I cry through it. There is much to be proud of this fall, and I can be proud through the tears. But mostly, just let me get through this at whatever pace I need to do.

I had planned to do this NaBloPoMo thing like I did last year - pick a series of enormous and grand topics and write my brains out. I may still do some of that. But for now I need to deal with this mourning process. Thank you for your patience.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

we lost

it's after midnight and we're down by more than 20,000 votes. In Maine, that's more than we can recover from the remaining 20% of precincts left to report.

It's over.

We lost.

I guess it's a good thing we hadn't set a date.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

put up or shut up time

This is it.

The big day.

Election day 2009.

Our chance to make history.

Our chance to march to Selma.

Here in the Dowling-Fortune household, we're starting to get twitchy.

We slept in and rested, but I think we've had just about all of that we can stand. We need to get to campaign headquarters soon or Laura might explode.

I've made my big tracker board thing with all the towns in Hancock and Washington Counties on it so we can write down the results as they come in. I made two dozen cupcakes that are now cooling in anticipation of frosting. And I made lunch, which we are eating. I will shower soon, get dressed, and we'll head out.

Before we return home, the voters in Maine will have decided whether we should be allowed to get married. I expect we'll have enough of the results in before midnight that it will be called one way or the other. That makes my stomach just a little bit sick, to be truthful.

Tonight we'll be watching the results online. I know some of my readers are not here in Maine, so here are some links to Maine television stations so you can follow along if you are so inclined.

And here is a link to the Bangor Daily News, where all election results are called in by each town clerk. I presume they will be doing some sort of live update thing through the evening.

And here is the link for Maine Public Radio, which I also imagine will be doing some kind of live update thing throughout the evening.

and here is the link for the campaign website, which will also be doing live updates all night:

And finally, for those of you who are familiar with her, Louise from Pam's House Blend will be live-blogging from the party in the Maine Ballroom at the Holiday Inn By the Bay in Portland. I don't know if everyone can join the live chat or not, but she'll be keeping us all up-to-date on what's going down at the statewide campaign headquarters.

I have no idea if I will be able to write anything later tonight or not. I'll have my laptop at the party, but chances are good that I'll be kinda busy tracking returns and such.

I will report in as soon as I am able. In the meantime, please keep your fingers crossed for us. We've all worked awfully hard on this for it to not go our way now.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's all over now but the voting

We've done what we came here to do. We identified voters, we encouraged voters, we recruited volunteers and raised money and raised awareness and took the high road and didn't hit (that's my own special rule. Apparently I needed that rule.).

We called and pestered and knocked on doors and put up yard signs and worked and worked and worked. We ate a ton of pizza and goldfish crackers and veggies and dip and potato chips and nachos and salsa. We ate moosemeat chili and egg salad sandwiches and gourmet preparations.

We did our best to treat our volunteers well and to make the shift enjoyable enough for them to agree to come back. (I think that's where the no hitting rule came in.)

I gave pitches and talked on the radio and answered questions about the same things over and over and over again. I wrote a newspaper column and blog posts and even delivered a sermon before it was done.

I am toast.

I have given all that I had to give. That's it, I'm done.

Tomorrow is voting day here in Maine, and the polls will close state-wide at 8 p.m., which means that in 25 hours of me sitting here writing this, it will be decided whether Laura and I can be legally married in the state we call home.

We've just spent four days in Portland, some 150 miles from home, staying with a friend who is more gracious than I could ever be, because Laura's mother was in the intensive care unit at Maine Medical Center. Friday morning she was unresponsive and her kidneys had stopped functioning. She had surgery earlier last week, and apparently it was all too much for some of her organs to handle, so they had a little lie-down-take-a-nap-kind-of-break. Fortunately, the doctors managed to coax them back into action without having to do dialysis, but Laura had to be nearby in order to make whatever medical decisions needed making. She's the eldest daughter, and thus next of kin. I cannot imagine how stressful this must have been for her. I have been watching her negotiate the myriad of bureaucratic levels at the hospital and run interference between the doctors and the rest of her family, and well, let's just say she's done it all with a lot more patience and grace than I think I would have been able to muster in similar circumstances. Tonight, she is my hero.

We are exhausted. We won't be doing the election-day running around get-out-the-vote madness that happens. We are on orders from the campaign team to lay low and recover a bit. I had the flu for nine days before we went to Portland, so we're both pretty wiped out. I expect we'll go to bed tonight and not set an alarm. We'll wake up when we wake up and forage in the house for breakfast. I may or may not make some cookies to bring to the party tomorrow night. We'll head up to Ellsworth in the late afternoon to set up for the party that we're having when the polls close at 8. It's at a local Internet cafe. They're letting us have the place for free and bring in our own snacks. They'll make their money on the cash bar. Laura and I will do what we can to make the place spiffy and prepared for the invasion of multitudes of election geeks and their laptops.

See, there are no big candidate races in Maine this year, so the television news people will be doing very little in the way of coverage. We had considered getting a big TV for the event, but it seemed silly if there isn't going to be live coverage through the evening. So we'll do it all on our laptops. I'll post all the links and stuff tomorrow. For tonight, I need to eat my spaghetti-o's with meatballs and snuggle my sweetie and head to bed. We've earned this night's rest.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

strange bedfellows indeed!

OK, so this is not anything I ever imagined that I would be saying, but I preached a sermon this morning. I was tagged by a friend when a call went out for a guest speaker on the Sunday before the election.

Maine's having an election. You may have heard something about that. Something about marriage equality. Yeah. Something like that.

So anyway, I went to the Unitarian-Universalist church in Belfast this morning. I worked for several days crafting my sermon, and choosing hymns and readings and a children's story. I was a bit of a nervous wreck, but I got through it. Here's what I said:

It is just two days before the election, and I am in a pulpit, a place quite frankly, I never pictured myself short of some kind of trial. Politics make strange bedfellows, though. And despite the fact that our democracy was founded on the principle of the separation of church and state, we as Unitarian-Universalists, are called to speak out for justice, and in this season, that means we end up mixing our faith and religious practices with secular concerns. And that, I suppose, explains how this grumpy middle-aged, lesbian, ex-Catholic semi-failed UU ended up in a pulpit two days before an election to not quite talk about politics.

As Unitarian-Universalists, what do we believe? What makes us what we are?

I remember when I was young and I was at that stage in a Catholic girl’s development when I began to realize that not every one of my friends was Catholic. I asked my aunt about different families we knew, and I remember when I asked about the Bennetts, she told me “they’re Unitarians.”

That stopped me for a moment. I had begun to learn a little about the various stripes of what had previously been a monolith of “Protestants” in my mind. I knew of Baptists and Episcopals (“Catholic-lite” I was told) and Pentecostals and Lutherans, but Unitarian-Universalists were a new thing to me.

“What do they believe?” I asked.

There was a pause, as my Irish Catholic aunt searched for her answer.

“Not much, as far as I can tell.”

More than thirty years later, I find myself here, asking the same simple question. The answer is far more complex than that first one I received.

What is it that we believe?

What is it that drives us?

We can cite the stuff that is written in the front of our hymnal and in all the literature, the lines about the inherent worth and dignity of each person, the bits about the interconnectedness of us all, the appreciation for our diversity and how we value each search for truth and meaning, but what DRIVES us? What makes us DO stuff? What makes us move?

What gives us passion enough to put aside the things that we do every day and invest a little bit of ourselves? And perhaps the more telling portion of this equation is this: how do we explain it to ourselves, and to others?

There are beautiful and intricate essays woven by theologians to explain why UUs are different from other Protestant sects, but for me, the thing that makes it real is what I call the “put up or shut up” principle. It is unwritten anywhere in our texts, you won’t find it in our creed, or in any hymnal or pamphlet, but it is something that runs through me that resonates within these walls.

We are people of action. We are people who put our money – and so much more – where our mouths are.

We do not only wail about hunger, we feed people.

We are saddened by oppression and seek to stop it and lift up the oppressed.

We do not just lament injustice, we work to fix it.

We prefer action to novenas.

Put up or shut up.

We exemplify faith in action.

The key thing, it seems to me, is that we like to be challenged. We like to have our ideas and beliefs challenged, else why would we show up every Sunday? Certainly not to be told repeatedly that we are right. Certainly not to have illogical things drilled into us by rote until we believe and chant it all back like so many automatons.

We want, nay, we DEMAND to be challenged, in all aspects of our lives. We need to hear “so what are you going to do about it?” We need to hear “please explain.”

Ours is not a faith of passive obedience, but one that demands rigorous action. As much as we need to be challenged, we challenge each other and the world around us. As often as we hear “please explain,” we say those same words.

“Please. Explain.”

“Show me.”

“Teach me.”

For what is it worth? To go through a day – or a lifetime?

never learning,

never growing,

never risking,

and never accomplishing a damned thing?

What kind of life is that? Where is the joy in being sedentary? Passive? Isolated?

When I first encountered UU-ism as an adult, it was at the Universalist-Unitarian Church in Waterville, Maine. I attended a service there as part of an assignment in a college class on modern religious movements.

I was overwhelmed.

The people were welcoming.

The readings were about love and sharing and helping and doing right, and you can only imagine my amazement when I flipped through the hymnal to find Holly Near!

I couldn’t go back for over a month. It felt so affirming -- it was more than I could stand.

I had never been in a church where I had been told that I was worthy. Indeed, as a part of the Catholic masses I used to attend weekly - sometimes daily – I repeated “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed” countless hundreds of times through my developing years and into adulthood.

To stand among people who did not ask me to hide my orientation or my politics was amazing. To converse with people who did not judge me because I had ideas that were different from theirs was enormous. To be welcomed and introduced to other, out queer people in a church was all a bit much for this embittered ex-Catholic to handle. I had no idea church could be like this. And it scared me.

What kept me coming back – initially – was the social and political action stuff. I was impressed by how active the people at the UU church were in politics. I was surprised to see people actually doing things – as opposed to just writing a check. In 1995, when I really became involved with the church there, it was because of the number of people from those pews on Sunday morning that I saw at the Maine Won’t Discriminate phone bank all the other nights of the week. We were fighting a No On 1 battle back then to protect the anti-discrimination law that had been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

Sound familiar?

You knew I’d get to this part.

The No on 1 part.

And it’s true. That’s why I am here.

My job today is to challenge you, within the context of what we know of our faith, and ourselves, to be all that we can be, to do all that we can do. And to give of ourselves. I mean really give. Not the easy stuff, the check, the single shift at the phone bank, going to the polls and casting a ballot. I mean the tough stuff.

The put up or shut up kind of stuff. The ‘how much does this thing called equality mean to us really?” stuff.

We’re UUs. We’re already active. And, truth be told, we’re usually pretty smug about how active we are.

When was the last time you gave everything you had?

I mean everything?

When was the last time you stayed up late, got up early, worked tirelessly, round-the-clock, putting aside everything else for a thing that was bigger than yourself? And what was that cause? An event? A war? A campaign? A big project? A movement?

What is it that is worth that much of us? Is marriage equality worth that? Some say yes, some say no.

Let me tell you what happens sometimes when my partner Laura and I visit an emergency room. Laura suffers from chronic back pain and chronic migraines. Sometimes we end up in the emergency room for acute care. She is in pain, blinded by her pain, often crying, sometimes being physically ill, barely able to speak. I am nervous. I am scared for my beloved. I want to stop her pain, but I am powerless. I want the doctors to respond NOW to make her better. I am frantic with worry.

And then a nurse steps in front of me and says, “you can’t be in here. You’re not family.”

I could cite case after case of similar instances, both in Maine and around the country, but I am only here to tell you about my experience. My truth. My reality. Where I live every day. And this is it. Unless we are married, by law, I am not a part of my partner’s family.

The hospital cannot release Laura’s medical information to me. I cannot have input or ask questions about her treatment or how I should care for her after I get her home. Under the law, we are strangers.

To me, then, this fight is worth everything I’ve got. And honestly, I don’t recall a time when I have poured more of myself into a thing than now.

I have devoted myself to causes and projects over the years. Some were logistical challenges, like conferences or retreats or weekend activities, but some were bigger than that.

Some, like this campaign, are about something that goes deeper than coordinating a weekend of picnics and hiking. This is about equality. And rights. And security. And dignity, and justice, and all of those things that are hard to describe but so important to us.

So important is this battle that I have devoted what some would call an unreasonable amount of my life to it in recent months. I am a small-scale contractor, specializing in home maintenance and repair. With the economy in a downward spiral, I have taken a leap of faith and thrown myself into this campaign. I have abandoned my business except for the most peripheral obligations and have begun to rely on the kindness of friends and strangers to pay my rent and other bills. I have not applied for public assistance, although it may come to that after the election.

I go to sleep each night and wake each morning thinking of the campaign. I think of how I can help, what I can do, where I can go to raise money, to recruit volunteers, where can I put yard signs, how can I get a house party put together in Bucksport or Stonington, or Ellsworth? How do I get my mug in front of voters and potential volunteers in Sedgwick or Gouldsboro, or Belfast?

Lately I have been having a recurring nightmare. I awake with a start from a dream in which it is November 4 and I am reading the election returns in the newspaper. Only I learn that if we had two more votes in each town, we would have won.

We UUs often talk about a faith-lived life, but what does that mean? To me it means living my life as closely in line with the things I believe as I can possibly get. It means put up or shut up.

It means doing what it takes to do what is right. It means giving of myself, laying myself on the line, taking a risk, speaking out, standing up and stepping forward.

It means volunteer. Put a shoulder to the wheel, stand and haul in line with the others, and do the work that is real.

Some of us are burned to a frazzle. Some are too overwhelmed by the enormity of what must be done to even begin.

And I am here, feeling just a little of both. Like many of my friends, have been fighting the long battle for equality for years. Many of us are more than just a little burned out. We feel as though we have been throwing ourselves at this particular wall for a very long time and we can see no sign that our efforts are doing anything real.

In the past few months, my role in the campaign has been to inspire people to give of their money and their time. I make ‘em cry and then I make them write checks and volunteer. It is what I seem to be good at, so it is what I do.

Not everybody can ask a group of strangers for money, and fewer still can ask their friends; but I can, and it needed doing, so that’s what I did.

The time for house parties is over. We are down to the sprint for the finish.

I stand before you with a complex agenda. I am here as a fellow Unitarian-Universalist, knowing what it is to be a cat who resists herding, and resenting mightily the suggestion that I might not be as enlightened and politically active as I ought to be already, thank-you-very-much.

And I am here as an organizer who knows just how much more there is to be done in the next 58 hours and who wants to inspire you to do it.

And I need to somehow wrap it all in a not-quite-political message that will both challenge and appeal to the pantheon of spiritual traditions and beliefs that fill the room.

Frankly, a house party would be a lot easier right now.

We all know what is involved in a political race. We all know what is involved in the last hours of a campaign. There’s a lot of grunt work to be sure, very little glamour, and much confusion and sometimes some shouting. But it is as necessary to democracy as air and sunlight and free speech. It is the stuff that makes our nation what it is – free people working hard for justice.

A faith-lived life is a light that can change the world. Gandhi taught us this.

How much is it worth to us, this thing called equality? What does it demand of us? What are we willing to give? How much faith do we have?

Are we willing to give our time? Our energy? Our talents?

Our hearts?

So now I challenge you:

What are you willing to do on faith?

How much of yourself are you willing to put on the line?

Are you willing to give of yourself?

Are you willing to give a day?

One day of your life?

Tuesday? Election day? Can you take that off to help drive people to the polls?

Maybe Monday, too? To make get out the vote calls and help people who want to vote early?

Two days?

Can you offer that much on faith?

It’s a lot, I know.

Are we willing to step out on that high wire and trust that we are doing the right thing and that the fates, or some higher power of our own definition, will preserve us?

Are we willing to put ourselves on the line?

Not as civil rights workers have in the past, stepping into the path of police dogs and fire hoses and riot batons; but to put ourselves on the line in a different way.

Personally, I’d love to see everyone here rush up to our volunteers after the service and sign up to work all day both Monday and Tuesday.

Not all of us can take two days off. But we can all give something.

Through this fall’s campaign, I have been using some basic math to inspire people to write big checks.

When a donor makes a one-time contribution of $100, that is a very good thing. But what does that represent? How much of that person is offered in that donation?

If the donor makes $30,000 a year, that $100 check represents one-third of one percent of his or her income.

One third of one percent.

How much are we willing to give of ourselves?

How much of our resources, whatever they may be, are we willing to put into this battle for equality?

One day of our year is – in easy math – one three hundred sixty-fifth of our year’s allotment of days. In easier to comprehend math, that’s something just over one fourth of one percent.

If we break it down into working hours, for those of us with day jobs, let’s say we offer up a whole workday. Based on 50 weeks of full-time employment, one eight-hour day is four tenths of one percent of what we pledge to our employer each year.

How much are we willing to give of ourselves?

The time for writing checks is past. Now is the time when justice asks us to give of what is real, to give of ourselves.

We talk in lofty terms about democracy and equality and justice, terms our Unitarian and Universalist forbears held so dear and suffered so to preserve, but how much of ourselves are we willing to sacrifice for those things?

What is equality worth to us? What value do we place on being able to visit a spouse in the hospital? How much of ourselves are we willing to give so couples will never have to hear again “you can’t be in here, you’re not family,” or worse yet, from a funeral director, “I’m sorry, you can’t sign for the body. We need a family member for that.”

This IS the single most important civil rights issue of my lifetime.

Marriage equality is going to happen on a state-by-state basis, creating a patchwork of equality until we arrive at a Loving vs. Virginia – type decision that will decide for all the land whether same-sex couples deserve the same basic civil rights as our heterosexual counterparts.

Maine is the only election this year dealing with marriage equality. 34 times the issue of same-sex marriage has gone before voters in one form or another in this country, and 34 times it has failed.

The task before us is enormous and is of a level of importance that I cannot describe, but can only hope that you comprehend.

This is our chance to march to Selma.

The world is watching.

I have taken that step out into the ether and trust that the world and its people will not let me down.


Then we stood and sang "This little light of mine". And then we signed up 14 volunteers for shifts tomorrow and Tuesday. I've done what I can do. Next step: Tuesday.