The amazing story of two 40-something women on the path to matrimonial bliss

It just keeps getting better...

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Year That Was...

We started this blog back in January as a candid account of our march to the non-traditional, traditional-inspired "aisle."  Just between you and me, that seems like a decade ago!  This year has been so dazzlingly full on all fronts that it may take a while to simply put everything that has gone down into some palatable perspective...

In the past year, Teri and I have planned a wedding; gotten hitched; moved to a new home and neighborhood; volunteered for various projects, boards, committees and events; worked; prepared hundreds of meals; baked dozens of cakes & pies; listened to a lot of troubles; had a ton of laughs; done probably a thousand loads of laundry; opened a hundred cans of cat food; turned over the guest room to the new-to-us teenager; survived a few squabbles and cried a teapot full of tears.  It has been a well-lived twelve months.

It is hard for me to imagine that our version of partnership, this marriage that we are making is very unique or different from the legalized hetero versions.  Our special gay money doesn't buy special gay toilet paper to share with our special gay spawn who are somehow recognizably different from other young 20-somethings.  The macaroni and cheese we make isn't made with special rainbow pasta and lavender cheese (although I know some who might think that dandy.) This past year, we squabbled over the most ordinary of things and got hooked on Mad Men just like everyone else.

So, as we sit here on the eve of 2012, Teri and I are just a couple weeks away from the anniversary of the day we met (on a grey, but dry January day)--what will this coming year bring in terms of job, life, surprises?  Will we be able to keep our health and our senses of humor?  We hope there will be a lot less cake and a lot more travel, but who knows?  Life, after all, is in the details...

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Work Ethic Conundrum

The older I get, the less black and white things seem; the more I understand how my values, beliefs and what I have learned to call morals and ethics are shaped by my heritage, my place and point in history, the education I have received or endured, and everything from socialization to personality.  Even if I share some morals and ethics with a collective, that doesn't mean valid differences don't exist.

I am not my parents or my grandparents--while I know that I have absorbed some of the values and ethics that they had, I am also a product of where, when and how I exist in the world.  Part of the historical, cultural work ethic I was raised with is that it is better to have any job and to give that job 110% (at least) than to NOT be working; if you do your best and show up to work every day regardless, the system will reward you.  Well, my fellow Gen-Xers and I learned that was not necessarily true as we watched our elders get downsized, outsized and stood by as they saw their pensions and savings get consumed by the system they had devoted themselves to.  We saw white people and males succeed at the expense of women and people of color and we saw a lack of vision compensated by greed and irresponsible stewardship.

So, we got educated.  We read books about doing work we loved and finding the right fit for our passions, skills and intellect.  We listened to motivational experts who told us we could make our own opportunities but we would need to not only work hard, but to also work smart.  None of my grandparents graduated from high school and yet they were homeowners, business owners and were all able to retire.  My parents graduated from high school and owned their own home, but worked for companies and corporations and struggled to build up retirement savings that have been pillaged.  I have a college education and I don't even delude myself into thinking I will ever "retire" in any conventionally imagined sense.  I am far less secure than my parents or my grandparents and yet I still consider work to be a representation of character, self-sufficiency and community investment.

What I do bring into my work is an inherited sense of creating opportunity for myself, my family and my work partners through sheer effort.  I'm not willing to lay down my life, but I am willing to do quite a bit and I have benefited from having the education, privilege and health to juggle and balance work and personal, despite spending many years as a single parent and paying my own way through college (slowly.)  My work ethic is some mutated version of "the more you do do, the more you can do."  I expected to have to earn, work, prove and create in order to carve out success and advancement and I also expect that will neither be easy nor fair. Just because it is my set of values, however, doesn't mean it is the only right one.  BUT...

It is always easier to work with people who have a shared understanding of what work ethic is; a mutual commitment to team; people who speak the same language; have the same understanding of both what is said and what is not; those who are like-minded.  Easier, however, is not always best.  If we are all speaking the same language and saying and doing the same things, what languages, ideas, perspectives and voices are NOT being heard?

I have read articles about how work ethic is dead among the younger generations and I confess right here and now that there have been times that I have sat in meetings or looked across a room and thought, for a brief moment, that might actually be true.  But then, I remind myself, that some versions of work ethic might surely be dead, and some might just be different.  I can only truly know my own experience and while it might color how I can appreciate new and different versions, it does not have to impede my ability to adjust.  I have worked just as hard for $7 an hour as I have for a higher salary, but I am not really someone who is motivated by money.  Others are.  I am content to work as part of a team so that the collective can advance.  Others want to be in the spotlight.  I don't need external validation but I do need to see progress in order to feel successful.  Others are content to do tasks without the need to see results.  We are all different--with different weaknesses and motivations, and we exist in completely different contexts despite finding ourselves in the same work environments.  I tend to think in terms of surviving and overcoming, whereas another might feel victimized or at risk of being a victim.  The world doesn't owe me--but I don't appreciate having it stand in my way either.  Others feel that an education, request or implied obligation needs to be met with an immediate response.

So, the point is this is a riddle, a conundrum--there is no simple answer of right or wrong, black or white.  I am not right while someone else is wrong (or vice versa), we are just coming at things from a different place; there are different inherited ancestral voices sitting on our shoulders.   Yes, I confess I would love to work in a world where everyone did equal parts, worked equally hard and contributed at equal levels.  That will never be reality and accommodations and adjustments will be constant.  Times will change, values and belief systems will morph--ethics and morals are not static.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

'Tis the Season (for Head Colds, Hurt Feelings, and Hurdles)

I refer to the holiday season as a mine field--I am not opposed to the hustle and bustle and festivities, I have just learned that for most of us, it is a time fraught with triggers, emotions, psychology, and history.  Nothing is ever as it seems.  A trip to the grocery store can result in being triggered by an end aisle display of peppermint bark that ends in long-forgotten memories of Christmas past and a long-dead aunt.  Many of us are not at our most healthy, grounded and focused at this time of year and as we trip through the mine field of December...stuff happens.

My already over-developed sense of humanitarianism goes on hyper drive this time of year.  Things like football games and expensive vacations seem glaringly obscene and packed with ignorant privilege while we walk past tags full of needy individuals' names at the shopping malls.  The whole idea that people only have basic needs in December sends me into gales of aggravated ranting. Balancing human generosity with the equally human tendencies toward selfishness, greed and avarice is a hurdle I struggle with every year. 

I find that we are frail and fragile in spirit this time of year, our feelings are easily hurt as we strive to bolster ourselves for the onslaught of memories, reminders, disappointments, fears, and all-to-real relationships.  Who do we send Christmas cards to?  Do we even send Christmas cards?  Are feelings still hurt over that relative who won't be our Facebook friend or the one who refused to acknowledge a wedding or baby gift?  We are forced to interact (and often give gifts) to those who are on the completely opposite side of the political spectrum or whose religious beliefs may be in direct opposition to our own.  While it may seem like the Holiday season is about good will, it is often about compromise, insecurity and overlooking differences--all part of the human experience too.

And yet, despite ill health (this is the season of cold & flu), tender spirit and the attack of triggers in the form of stuff, smells, and people--we all march on.  Like an army of nutcrackers, stoic and wooden, we push ourselves through the season.  We find delight in the little things, take refuge with the chosen family and friends who aren't so hard on our sense of self, search for glee and merriment and kindness in the nooks and crannies of the coldest months.  We do our best.  With varying degrees of success, we maneuver through the mine field of the holidays.