Archive for June 2007

Thoughts on Pride (or How Bougee Am I?)

June 30, 2007

A few weeks back John took a week off from work to paint the bedroom. I don’t have any vacation time until October, so I couldn’t do the same. Not that I would have, but at least my excuse was airtight as well as convenient. To celebrate John’s unselfish act, I reserved his Friday night for a nice dinner on the back porch. Sounds cheap of me I know, but we’re trying to save money and I knew he would appreciate the effort. Plus when the evenings are all sparkly and perfect and the garden is in bloom, there is no other place that either of us would rather be.

I drug out a small table from the living room and put a table cloth over it, lit a candle, opened some wine, popped in the Caribbean steel drums CD from Target that I bought and served John Jennie’s spaghetti and meatballs. As we ate we could hear the bubbly laughs, occasional kid’s cry and subsequent parental directives from our neighbors’ homes. Mindy, from next door and Mike and Naomi from two doors down and all of their kids.

I said, “So this is what a date on our back porch sounds like.”

“I like it,” John said. I agreed. We love our neighbors. I’m sorry for people who don’t enjoy theirs, but we couldn’t live without ours. In fact, as usually happens on Friday nights after work, the grown ups ended up sitting around with a glass of wine, this time on our back porch over dessert (a nice way to end a date), while the kids darted around the yard chasing fireflies and drawing from the bottomless wells of energy with which God, for some inexplicable reason, blesses the young.

As we caught up on our weeks and talked about weekend plans, Naomi asked me if we planned to go to the Pride Festival downtown. For those who don’t know, June is Gay Pride Month and many places, including Indy, have a weekend festival and parade to celebrate it.

I hesitated to answer, but finally did. “I don’t think so. You know, for some reason a lot of the Pride Festival in the past has tended to feel like Indy’s version of Mardi Gras to me. I’m probably being prudish, but it kind of bothers me that pride in accomplishment and who we are so frequently has a sexualized aspect attached to it. I’m sure there are reasons for it. Maybe it’s because generations prior were so tired of being told to be someone other than who they are sexually, that Pride ends up being like a shaken Coke can exploding and the festival is what that looks like. Plus we have a birthday party for a friend Saturday afternoon.”

To be honest, Indy’s pride festival is way tamer than Mardi Gras, and I told Naomi this. You might see some leather guys, great looking drag queens, some motorcycle mamas and a few scantily clad go-go boys, but the vast majority of people look like they could be heading to Ribfest or the 500 Festival. The crowd is typically better behaved than most downtown events I go to. And there is even a completely separate family pride event on Sunday where gay parents, their kids and relatives can celebrate without having to explain why that one guy is walking around in what looks like his underpants. But it is the fact that families end up being marginalized from a street event that annoys me a little.

My friend Dave, who is an even bigger prude than I am, thought I was being too sensitive when I told him the reasons I would be skipping Pride stuff this year, “Girl, just get your thong on and get down here,” he said. (Since my mom sometimes reads my blog I should say that Dave was joking. I do not wear thongs. That rushing wind you hear is the world exhaling a sigh of relief.)

Maybe I am making too big a deal of all this. The length of this post would suggest as much. Besides I really do appreciate the spirit behind the event and the enormous amount of work that goes into it.

I remember my first Pride. I was 30 and recently out. I was amazed by the feeling of security that came from knowing I was surrounded by thousands of people who weren’t looking at me and wishing I was someone other than who I am. Thousands of people who would actually stand up for my right to exist, free from fear and inequity. I was encouraged to see young couples and older couples made up of people like me. And it offered a good opportunity to question the value of a mainstream.

But parts of Pride actually seemed to play into the haggard myth that being gay is a lifestyle and not about who we naturally bond romantically with, or relationships or the myriad other things that our community is about. Maybe those last bits are there and I just don’t see them because I get distracted by the hot guys in the Budweiser (or is it Miller Lite?) posters, which would be my problem, I guess, and not the festival’s.

I think it’s okay that the festival was not for us this year. It obviously meets the needs of thousands of other people, and that’s great. We celebrated Pride 2007 in a way that made sense to us. Hanging out in our run-of-the-mill, and still diverse neighborhood as an openly gay couple with our straight friends, our gay friends, our single friends and married friends, our young friends and our old friends, all of whom come from different backgrounds. And always in the back of my mind was a feeling of gratitude for the efforts of out, proud, and often loud gay folks, many of whom were whooping it up downtown and who helped pave the way for our admittedly bougee but sweet Indiana reality.

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Cincy Trip with Brad and Leelee

June 26, 2007

John and I spent the weekend in Cincinnati with our friends Brad and Leelee.  Saturday was reserved for Kings Island. I would have taken pictures, but Kings Island is pretty run down.  Maybe if the Brady Bunch does a reunion show there they would spruce it up for them, but right now they have major theming problems, plus three of the bigee rides were closed (Son of Beast, Delirium and Tower of Power–eeek, I would have avoided that last one anyway). 

The Beast (roller coaster) is actually worth the trip though and I hear the owners of Cedar Point bought the property, so maybe things are looking up for the Island. Plus even waiting in long lines is fun if you are with the right people and we were.

On the way back from the park, Leelee and John noticed this semi hauling a couple of tractors.   We had to slow down for a second look.   I appreciate the time taken to add a little humor to the lives of fellow drivers.

Big Haul - Little Haul

On Sunday we spent about three hours at Jungle Jim’s, which is part international market, part incredible wine store and part Showbiz Pizza without the pizza and just the bizarre animatronic animals thrown in.  I found two of my favorite candies there: Ting Ting Jahe (ginger candy) and Mozart Kugeln (hazelnut, marzipan, pistachio, chocolate candy).   Well worth a trip if you have the time just to save postage on these things. 

Brad brought home a boatload of sushi from Jungle Jim’s for dinner on Friday night and it was great. Talk about awesome hosts. They even let Claire come along when I realized I’d forgotten to make her hotel arrangements. Now we’re planning a trip to Cedar Point. Heads up Julie! You and Mr. McMarth will have to join us!

Anatomy of a Tired Festival

June 20, 2007

After nine years of living in downtown Indianapolis I finally made it to the annual Strawberry Festival fundraiser for Christ Church Cathedral on the Circle. I’d always wanted to go. June in Indiana is lush and green and a festival of strawberries sounded so perfect. I imagined farmers from all over the state bringing in flat after flat of fresh berries. There would be different strawberry desserts, all topped with fresh whipped cream sweetened with just a touch of sugar. Kids would run relay races around the Circle while balancing strawberries on a spoon. A few random, but good-natured strawberry fights would erupt. Especially exuberant young mothers would dress their babies in those funny little strawberry costumes.

Many of my co-workers planned to take a break from work to walk over to the Circle. I couldn’t wait to join them. But when I got there, this is what I found!
Festival copy
See those tents? Those aren’t booths for farmers and their berries or even fun games! They’re cafeteria lines where you and a bazillion other people wait in line to get a standardized strawberry dessert that with the works costs six bucks! And we’re talking food from vats. It was like a FEMA set up, only better organized. The festival website says that the 18K shortcakes (an impressive number) are homemade (and then frozen) for the event. In the one other tent that wasn’t a food line was a seniors band that played jazz standards. They were cute and obviously having a good time, but you could hardly hear them over the crowd.

And that was it. The assembly lines were enough to make me wonder how the word “festival” even got attached to the event. Did it used to be quaint? Katie called it a “strawberry distribution center.” Karen had warned me that I might be disappointed, but my other co-workers were thrilled with the event, and evidently so were the scads of people lined up for processed berries. I’ll probably catch it from the multitude for whom this passes as a good time, but fresh strawberries are better than this. I take some consolation in the fact that the Cathedral raises over $100K for local charities from this venerable “festival,” which is pretty amazing. Perhaps it just needs a fun overhaul.
Ewww copy

Partying with Julie and Tommy

June 19, 2007

Julie and Tommy

John and I just got back from Julie and Tommy’s wedding reception in Cleveland. They got hitched the weekend prior in Batesville, AR but not everyone could make that whing-ding so they had an extra party.

Smokin'

The location (a former CCC camp turned National Park) had a rustic feel that was relaxed and fun, which made for a nice stroll on the lawn where we reenacted the “smokin’ hot wife”/grace scene from Talladega Nights.

Garden cake

The food was fresh and healthy, except for the garden cake, which at least looked healthy thanks to the fondant vegetables that Lori and Jennie made and individually wrapped (!) to travel on the plane trip from Arkansas. That’s a story that Jennie had better tell.

Julie and Jennie wore their clothes from the ceremony in Batesville. They looked great.

Prom Reconsidered

Here are Jennie and J. in a prom pic in front of the very romantic fireplace at the La Quinta, Macedonia.

Prep Crystal helping fix Julie’s hair, which Julie described as more vampy than what she had at the wedding. She even wore false eyelashes, which I don’t think get used enough these days.

Hawt!

I wore a hat that my friend Chris brought back from his last trip to Uzbekistan (or was it Tajikistan? I can’t remember). Anyway, it looked good on everyone, especially Julie!

Tommy's Childhood Friend

A childhood friend of Tommy’s. Little man kind of freaked me out. It did explain a lot though.

So nice to catch up with Batesville folks and meet some of Tommy’s family, who all seemed very fun. Celebrating the marriage of great people is a wonderful way to spend a weekend.

More pictures here.

Claire’s Breakfast

June 15, 2007

Between watering our very dry garden and running up to the north side to run errands I forgot to buy Claire dog food last night.  We are completely out and John is working in Puerto Rico all week so this morning for breakfast Claire had a bowl of Cheerios with peanut butter and a raw egg on top.  Making it kind of made me nauseous, but she liked it.  In fact, she looked at me with her head cocked like she was trying to figure out what she’d done to deserve a bowl of special treats.   

Family Patterns

June 12, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot about patterns, mostly family patterns. Last Sunday, David’s brother Phil Gulley, a Quaker minister, preached at our church.  Phil is also an author. One of his books, If Grace is True, which he wrote with James Mullholland is a meditation on God’s mercy that jellified my worldview a few years back in a way that both comforted and disturbed me.  

His ideas must have affected him in a similar way, because his sermon focused on how some people, including him, are not called to rest in the “good enough” place of comfortable ideas.   

During his talk Phil threw out a phrase that I meant to write down.  I didn’t, so I’m remembering it now as “family habits.” 

He was speaking metaphorically, but the reference to family set my mind spinning.   I started to wonder how I ever ended up living 500 miles away from my parents; me, who cried when my parents left me in my freshman dorm room for the first time. 

My mom’s sister, her kids and grandkids, have never left the town where she and my mom were raised.  They are all settled within 20 miles of each other and are a part of one another’s daily lives.  But my mom married a man, eventually my dad, who traveled to find work.  Soon they settled an hour away from her home, not far by today’s measures, but a world away for an Arkansas farm girl in the early 60s. 

My mom married when she was 18 and for the first several months of their life together she made my dad drive her to my grandparent’s house every weekend until he finally had enough and said she could go on her own, which she did.    

My mom’s family put down deep roots in the Ozark foothills, while my dad’s family moved around quite a bit, mostly for practical reasons.   Sometimes I wonder if my willingness to move and its marriage to a perpetual low-grade wistfulness for home is a fusion of those two types of connection to place.   I also wonder if Southerners aren’t just cursed, or blessed, depending on your perspective, with an addiction to the humid history that makes up their family’s most prized possession—it’s uniquely grand story, the setting of which is often the star of the show.  Moving away means unraveling your personal thread from that tapestry, in my case to the point that I sometimes feel as if I am dangling so loosely that God’s scissors will trim me and work me into another fabric.    

Historically, even my mom’s family has uprooted itself.  If you ever stop by the tiny community of Pangburn, AR you are likely to run into someone related to me.   The remains of our common ancestors can be found beneath a grove of large Oak trees along with a historical marker that tells the story of a 19th century family that ventured as a clan from Appalachia to the Ozarks and birthed this small town.   My Aunt Judy tells me they settled by the Little Red River first, but the bugs became too much for them so they headed for the thinner air of the hills where mountain music echoes better anyway.   

 While the hassle of  air travel today makes going by covered wagon seem posh in comparison, it is true that modern technology has changed how frequently we move and how far away.  I wonder though how different our reasons for doing so are.  Aren’t we still interested in doing better by our family or finding places where we fit better and are not as disenfranchised because we are different?   Then there is the almost religious sense of calling to destiny that has kept the world’s population in motion for at least as long as recorded history. 

But how to keep that family fabric from unraveling?  For me, that’s the tricky part. 

Chris Rocks the Cathedral

June 8, 2007

One of the benefits of working in downtown Indianapolis is that there is always something going on at lunch time. Today my friend Chris gave an awesome organ recital at Christ Church Cathedral on the Circle.
Christ Church Cathedral
(Side note: CCC was the first church I visited when I moved to Indy. Sweet people, gorgeous church, and worth a visit if you are in town. Their choir is really good, too.)
Christ Church Cathedral Indianapolis
The Cathedral’s organ (I think there are several there actually) is great, and Chris, who is our organist at Broadway, knows the business end of it like the back of his hand.
Chris's Concert
I love to watch Chris play. He puts his whole body into it, which after one (and only one so far) lesson I realized is partly because every limb you have works at the same time (playing those peddles is rough). And sometimes it looks as if he is singing along with the music even though there are no words, which I think is cool.

As Chris played I had flashbacks to high school when Barbara Kimble, our church organist at the time would pick me up from school at lunch so we could haul ass to the chapel at Lyon College (then Arkansas College) for weekly organ concerts. Like Chris, Barbara is an enthusiastic musician. She is hilarious, too, and I love being around her whenever I get the chance, which isn’t often these days. I always felt lucky that she took the trouble to take me to those concerts.

I feel just as lucky to have Chris be a part of our life now. He and his partner Doug have been great friends of ours for years. Chris may look, sing, and play like an angel, but believe me, there’s a little  devil inside, which, of course, I love.
Chris's Concert
He’s also a trooper. Chris joined a group of us from Broadway who visited Glide Memorial Church last summer. Glide is an urban church in San Francisco, which is famous for, among other things, its gospel choir and a rockin’ jazz quintet. Knowing that classical music is more Chris’s thing, the day we got there, we lied and told him that Glide was expecting him to play piano at their church service on Sunday a.m. Bless his heart. He came to church the next morning ready to jam. Such a professional.

Some of my most spiritually engaged moments have been while Chris was playing. In fact, when John and I discuss moving from Indy, one of the things that makes me immediately sad about what we will be leaving behind is hearing Chris play the last song of our Christmas Eve service. Some experiences are impossible to duplicate, and that moment each year is one of them.

If you are ever in Indy, you owe it to yourself to pop in to Broadway on a Sunday a.m. and hear the master at work!