Sunday, June 26, 2011

Same Sex Marriage

New York's adoption of laws allowing two people of the same gender to marry each other is a positive move. However, it reminds me of a lingering question: where does the separation of church and state come down on this issue? Before any couple can be married, in either a civil or religious union, they are required to purchase a license from the jurisdiction in which they plan to marry. If there really is a separation between church and state why would a government object to a couple of men or a couple of women marrying each other? Marriage is sanctioned, if you will, by either the state and church or just the state. I cannot argue with religious institutions determining who may be married in their denomination. But by what right do states get to choose who can marry whom? Yes, I know most states don't approve of first cousins marrying first cousins or siblings marrying each other. And, of course, there are age restrictions. These are reasonable because of genetic and other health concerns. Most states have already backed out of adults' bedrooms, recognizing they have no business dictating sexual behavior between consenting adults. Besides, we all know that marriage isn't all about the sex anymore! Anyone who still believes that is living in the dark ages. Of course, I support laws to protect children from incest, pedophiles and other inappropriate behavior. Children have no way of understanding or agreeing to sexual behavior. But I'm talking about the institution of marriage here. Why should two people who are prepared to devote their lives to each other, with all the legal ramifications and responsibilities, be denied that right based solely on their sexual orientation? For many these days, marriage is taken lightly and treated like a big party wherein a bride gets to boss everyone else around and have everything she wants for "her day." A splashy wedding doesn't guarantee a stable marriage. Others, mostly those who cannot legally (yet!) marry the person of their choice desire it to the point of pain. How can it be fair to exclude these people, for no other reason than their sexual orientation, from taking a life altering step that is legal for most everyone else? Is there a secret legion of Puritans running government? I cannot see any other reason to deny legal, civil marriages to gay and lesbian couples. Am I missing something?

Friday, June 24, 2011

He's Movin' On

There's a big, white moving truck across the street, emptying a lovely, old house on the grounds of the first naval observatory in D.C. Yes, there was another before the more famous one on Massachusetts Ave. Spouse and I are lucky to have a view of the far, prettier, older one across from the State Department and behind the U.S. Institute for Peace building.

Former Secretary of Defense Gates and his wife are leaving the spin-cycle-life of D.C. to return to civilian life, presumably away from Washington.

His years serving in the federal government have been jam-packed. I've noticed him coming home at all hours and on any day. His travel schedule would have been enough to exhaust much younger people yet he always carried on and through.

Maintaining professional decorum, he was still able to display honest affection and admiration for our Americans in uniform. Foreign leaders also respected him for his personal integrity, strategic intelligence and diplomatic skills.

Washington needs more men and women of Robert M. Gate's calibre. Self-aggrandizement never occurred to him and duty to his president and country always came first.

Having served two presidents -- from different parties, no less -- with extraordinary grace, intelligence and endless patience, he deserves a peaceful, private, and long vacation. Godspeed, Dr. and Mrs. Gates.

Friday, June 17, 2011

"Popping the Question"

That term bugs me whenever I read or hear it. What is it with young couples these days? Since when did it become de rigueur for the guy to "pop the question" -- a.k.a. asking for someone's hand in matrimony. Frankly, I think I'd prefer the full body . . . I enjoy reading even though it has a definite slant towards young, single people. No problem there. I was once young and single and remember the joys and sorrows of dating. What makes me shudder is the desperation that comes through in so many posts. I thought the women's movement had freed young women and girls from the stigma of singlehood. I was an early victim of this "new thinking." When I went away to college in 1967, I fully expected to graduate, teach school for a couple of years, get married and start a family. That was the well-established formula for all "girls" at the time. The women's movement condemned all that, something that was difficult for many of us to accept. Slowly we came to realize that we COULD have fulfilling careers; we COULD excel in sports and mathematics; we COULD live happily without a husband and/or children; etc., etc. Many men wanted nothing to do with the new woman. They didn't want to accept that women had equal intelligence and didn't like being treated like girls. I used to get so angry during group conversations when I'd ask a question or make a comment only to have someone respond to the nearest male instead of to me! That and being regarded simply as a pair of boobs was beyond insulting. The flip side of the women's lib coin was an increase in sexual freedom which the guys really didn't seem to mind. Thankfully, some men eventually "got the message" and started treating us more or less as equals -- salary inequities aside. Why then do so many of today's young women seem so meek and needy? Granted, we're still not fairly paid, but in nearly every other way, we're competing on a far more level playing field than we had in the 60s and 70s. Why can't a woman phone last evening's date to say she had a good time and enjoyed his company? Why can't a woman and man simply decide to marry each other and do it without investing tens of thousands of dollars in a one-day event which often causes arguments over silly things like color schemes, venues, and other unnecessary accoutrements? Why must there be candles, flowers, an outrageously unaffordable ring in a fancy little box presented from a debased position at a specially chosen location?? I thought this sort of thing went out with powdered wigs! Ladies: I'm here to tell you that you are allowed to act like a human and not just a silly, jabbering goofy-gal. My generation made that possible. AND, you don't need a mate to complete you. I am an example of that. After I broke my third engagement at the age of 28 I started enjoying my independence and the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted. I bought a car and discovered new places while getting lost (no sense of direction . .. *sigh*). Sure, I dated, but it wasn't something I needed. Four years later, after I'd stopped being concerned about finding a mate, he showed up! After almost two years of co-habitation, spouse and I decided consciously and together to marry each other. There was no bent knee and no"popping" (no pun intended). We had talked about it and just realized that it was time to legalize things. Since then it has been 28 years of love and war* and totally worth it. *Personal evolutions aren't always compatible, but we've accepted them because we love each other. I think an inability to handle that causes many of today's divorces. No one is perfect and the sooner I realized that applies to me, too, the easier it was to accept Spouse's faults and foibles. After all, he accepts mine and is still here!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


What philandering, stupid male humans need is not therapy, but to grow up. I won't call them men because that implies a certain level of maturity. Guys like Anthony, Arnold, John and way too many more are simply hormonal boys in grown-up bodies.

I'm so tired of people "taking full responsibility" and "seeking therapy" when what they need is a swift kick in the butt and training on what it means to be an adult.

If people aren't smart enough to recognize their own shameful and/or stupid behavior, they should not be in positions of responsibility or leadership. Sadly, it seems that the more powerful and/or wealthy some become, the less maturity they exhibit.

Anthony Weiner needs to kiss his wife's feet everyday for the rest of his life -- if she's willing to stay with him. Before that, he needs to conserve the miniscule bit of dignity he has left and resign from Congress. Enough already!

Friday, June 10, 2011

I quit

After nearly 16 years of struggle, frustration and sinking hopes, I am giving up a battle. I still believe it is worth the fight, but I'm too tired and frustrated to carry on.

There are many advantages to living in a city. However, it's one of the disadvantages that I have lost the will to fight even though it affects far more people than me.

I'm speaking of commuter buses that, on a daily basis, park on city streets (in my case on the shoulder across the street from our apartment complex) and idle for several hours, killing time waiting to retrieve their passengers from jobs in D.C. to return them to their suburban homes.

Like many longtime residents, I remember days, especially during the hot months, when skies were brown with inversions: a combination of heat and air pollutants. Breathing was painful and eyes watered. Thankfully, we've come a long way from those days.

Laws were passed to prevent the kind of behavior I've tried to tackle all these years. Busses have even been granted special parking areas while they wait to collect passengers. Tour buses are a serious problems for other parts of D.C., but I'm specifically addressing commuter bus companies -- Ehre, Maryland Transit Authority, Loudoun Country Transit and others.

I have phoned their dispatchers to remind them of the law and the fact that their drivers are also wasting a lot of fuel idling for hours on end. By nature, I'm not a combative person, so responses have ranged from "sorry, there's nothing we can do about it" to "thank you for calling - click."

Calling the non-emergency number for D.C. police is pretty useless because our cops have far more important problems to deal with. I finally found the right office to handle this problem the Public Works. Last year they even sent out an inspector - at my invitation - to sit on our balcony so he could witness the situation first hand. He and his supervisor were most helpful and sympathetic but eventually had to move on to other problems.

I started logging bus arrival and departure times to send in, but the weather turned cold and wet and I gave up.

Somewhere in all D.C.'s bureaucracy, there must be a fair solution to this issue. Commuter bus drivers don't return to their terminals because they might be late picking up their afternoon passengers. They need a place to park their buses, find shelter, a bathroom and maybe a place to eat and dump trash from their buses other than in our gutters.

Just caught these two, with a third I couldn't get into the picture, a few minutes ago. The other I took last week. Both days were unhealthy for young, elderly and people with breathing problems. We've also had record heat, so I can kinda underdstand the drivers wanting to sit in their air cooled buses -- but all three? Why couldn't they get friendly and all gather in just one bus to stay cool, killing time for their scheduled pick-ups? I've asked that question before, but get silence. I hope there is someone out there who is willing to pick up where I'm leaving off. Almost two decades of beating my head against a wall is all I can give.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Flutterby

It might be a moth, but what do I care? It's Thursday!

Friday, June 3, 2011

T.J. and me

Tom Jefferson, the guy who built Monticello and UVA, and I share a birthday -- April 13 -- give or take a couple hundred years. I've always admired his free spirit and savoir-faire. Nevertheless, dancing around his memorial statue just seems wrong. So to the group that plans a second dance tomorrow evening: CUT IT OUT!! Now Tom might be the first to say "let's dance" but I very much doubt he would be comfortable doing a jig inside Lincoln's Memorial or any other dedicated to a former national leader. Can anyone even imagine dancing around the soon to be opened Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial? These memorials are not what I'd call sacred, but they hold special meaning for many of us. Every time I drive by the mammoth statue of Dr. King, I feel a chill. I cannot forget where I was and what I was doing when I heard he had been assassinated. It was the same lost, breathless feeling we all had when JFK was killed. Granted, T.J. lived a good long life and died in bed. Still, we owe it to the millions of visitors, Americans and foreigners alike, to show respect for our heroes. It would be totally crass to dance at the Vietnam Wall or the WWII Memorial or any other reminders of American sacrifices. Thomas Jefferson devoted his life to seeing that a brand new nation survived it's birth and would flourish. [Yeah, we all know about his personal life -- so what's new?!] He earned our respect. Those who plan to again "dance on his grave" have not. You're free to dance on the stairs or the terrace, but leave the inner sanctum in peace, OK?!