“It’s Only A Game”

“It’s only a game,” my wife said, walking away from me during one of my diatribes on the irritation of rival fans. The morning after a huge victory for one of my beloved teams, a victory over 20 years in the making, my feathers were a bit ruffled by some of the nonsense I read online. I really should know better, fans are called fans for a reason; they are die-hard enthusiasts of a partisan nature.

In reality, my wife is right. It is only a game. A sporting game is just a game of rules, strategy, athletes and fans. It’s almost always not life and death, and though sides and colors are drawn, at the end of the day we all go home to our families and our lives…and life goes on. It’s only a game.

That is the reality. But the reality sometimes forgets about the magic. The reality sometimes forgets about the mojo and the excitement. And in reality, life is really all about the magic.

Yes, sports have elements of hard work, dedication, and sportsmanship; all positive qualities applicable to good life lessons. But for me, and as I suspect for many others, sports are a marker in time. I have a collection of magical moments that link me to people and places in time. Yes, the memory involves a big win or a heart breaking loss. But with all of those memories, I remember who I was with, and how people were feeling; makers in time.

As my Michigan Wolverines sit one game away from a shocking National Championship, it reminds me of a key marker in my life; the last time Michigan won the basketball title in 1989. My step-dad and I watched the double overtime victory against Seton Hall, cheering Rumeal Robinson as he sank two free throws to seal the championship. I remember the game, both like it was yesterday and a lifetime ago. At the moment Michigan won, I leaped from the corner of the arm of the couch, meeting my step-dad on the floor of our living room. We rolled around in amazed excitement. It was and remains a highlight of my life. Yes, because my team won. But more than anything, because of celebrating it with someone I love.

Magical.

Marker in time.

The 2006 Detroit Tigers pennant win in Comerica Park is much the same a marker in time. It was the first time my wife attended a Detroit Tigers baseball game; not a bad first experience. Sam and I were in the upper deck along the first base side. My step-dad and uncle were in the upper deck just behind home plate. And my brother-in-law sat with a friend in right field. I remember the moment Magglio Ordonez blasted his 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th like it was yesterday. Within an instance I leaped to the back of my seat and along with 45,000 of my favorite Detroit friends, celebrated in the unbelievable excitement. I remember games in relation to the timing of that game. I remember moments in my life, in relation to that 2006 magical moment.

Marker in time.

So, as real as it may be that it’s “only a game,” the reality doesn’t quite equate to the divinity of time and the magic of people. In an age of ever expanding cruelty in rivalries, I hope as we all cheer for our own teams and tease rivals about their teams, we do so in a way that honors the magic. After all, life is meant to be enjoyed not endured.

Go BLUE!

Back to Blogging: New Paths, Sad Tragedy, and a Reason for the Season

The other day someone in my family asked why my “website” (meaning my blog) hasn’t been updated in a while. Translated, that question means that I haven’t posted any new writing lately. I would say I haven’t written “anything” lately, but that is untrue. Ever since I started back in school in September, I have done a great deal of writing; in fact, usually three essays a week. As well as the essays might have been written, I doubt my examination of child development and abnormal psychology would have garnered a ton of blog readers. Although, my readership on here is typically only 10 people, so maybe my numbers wouldn’t have been down so much, after all. ;)

I am officially on hiatus; that’s what it’s called, right? My first semester classes have completed and I’m in a holding pattern until my next classes begin in early January. So, it’s time to blog again.
I thought long and hard about this blog topic. It’s the holiday season, should I focus on the reason for the season, or the various beliefs that all really boil down to being a good person and treating others with kindness? After a horrific national tragedy last week, should I focus on the causes, the reasons, the ramifications, or the reminders? Or, being back in school yet again, should I focus on redefining dreams, and the notion that it’s never too late to reach a goal?

How about each of them….

It is never too late to reach a goal. My college life has been a merry-go-round of schools and programs, much like the carousel of Detroit Lions coaches. I completed high school in good academic standing and then finished my Associate’s Degree rapidly and as a Magna Cum Laude graduate, while also working and playing sports in college. It certainly felt and seemed as if I was on a particular scholastic path. But, life happens sometimes. And the happenings took me from UCSB to Ventura College, to Northwestern College, to GVSU, and finally to Baker College. My degree programs ranged from Film Studies, Environmental Studies, Political Studies, Liberal Studies, Health Care Administrative Studies, and finally…just simply “General Studies”. My attempt to find “my right path,” created a jigsaw in the corn maze, finally displaying as an exit at “just get the degree” land.

I will finally get the degree, but in the midst of my wading around and flapping relentlessly towards meaning, I’ve landed where I obviously was meant to land, and never knew it. In finishing up this General Studies degree, I selected the concentration of Psychology. And in doing so, something finally clicked. And the classes clicked. And miraculously, I have that new direction that I sought out after over 20 years ago. It took me awhile, but the first in a series of goals will be met. And when it is, it’ll be time to tackle the next goal. Who knows if I’ll complete my Psychology Master’s in 3 years, or 10 years, and if I’ll actually pursue a career, finally, on a path that matters to me. But, what matters most of all, is that I’m working towards it. I hope I always continue to work towards something….

And while I am waxing poet about school, it’s important to bring up the sobering school tragedy last week in Newtown. I could approach this topic from one extreme or another; arm everyone with a gun, or take all guns away. But, I’m a middle of the ground person and I approach most things from a balanced center, so neither of those approaches makes much sense to me. The violence in this country though, is in part a gun problem. It’s also partially a mental health issue, as well as potentially a child development issue. What it feels most like to me, however, is a “lack of concern for community” issue. It feels, more and more, that we have lost a sense of family and lost a sense of community in the good ole USA. Violence has always been a part of humanity; of this I’m aware. It’s a sad part of the history of mankind, for which I’ll never quite comprehend. So, it’s a bit naive to think that only recently has violence popped up. And it’s true that mental issues have also been a part of humanity, even if undiagnosed and untreated. It’s also true that throughout history, people have created and utilized weapons, whether for self-defense or for offensive acts.

But, if we are all honest with ourselves, we would all most likely admit that it seems like “something is off” in our country. The hatred seems electrified; politically and socially. It “feels” like our obsession with “team rivalry” has grown over into every-day life; often in unbelievably bizarre and aggressive ways. It feels like we have lost our way. Who are we, as a society? Who are we as individuals, who are also part of a larger community?
There seems to be a constant debate over the notion of either being a society of individuals or a society of community, and again it seems like an argument of extremes. Isn’t it possible we are both? Isn’t it possible that we are all individuals, with individuals’ rights and pursuits and challenges….but individuals that are part of a greater commonality? One of the tenants to religion is that people are a small part of something bigger. It’s one of the few aspects of religions that actually ring true to me. Is America willing to remember that beyond just being individuals we are also a larger community? Are we a country where citizens care as much for others as they do themselves? Or heck, even care slightly for others as they do themselves? Whether we are a nation of Christians, or a nation of religious potpourri, it seems to me there is nothing holy about a country compromised of self-focused individuals; religious or not.

And with that, we approach the holiday season. Some call it “the holidays” in attempts not to offend, while others are righteously offended by the lack of specific terminology. I find it all to be a bit much for my liking, especially given the real offensive behaviors. By that I mean, what is the reason for the season? The reason is likely different for many people. Obviously, most of the holidays this time of year are heaped in religious and cultural traditions. But, at what point did the season become an endless cycle of material gluttony? Since when did the birth of Jesus, a being that sacrificed himself and focused exclusively on the well-being of others (and not material goods) become a celebration of endless credit cards and greedy children? Last night I saw a commercial where children were reciting all of their “want list items” for Christmas. Just the idea of a “want list” baffles my mind. Sure, in life we all want things, but is it a true reflection of Christmas to be exchanging “want lists?” I can’t quite put it into words, but there is something really off about this.

So, instead of people being mad that a friend on Facebook posts Merry Christmas 10 times, or another friend continues with the phase “Happy Holidays,” maybe it’s more important to hone in on the reason for the season. It is different for different religions and various cultures; but the reasons mostly boil down to sacrifice, reflection, community, family, and love. Nowhere in that list does the season include nit picking on holiday terminology, or making sure to cross off your daughter’s entire 22 item gift list. What you do and what you call it is simply your business….and it’s not really for me to judge. What I will say, however, is that my reason for the season is simply put; the people I love, and that reminder that life is beautiful in all its simplistic glory.

Summer Happened So Fast…

Summer; it’s the time of year songs are written for, and the season when free time turns into play time. Free time turns into play time; that almost sounds like a Pure Michigan tagline.

It must be said that summer is the time of year most people relish. It’s the season of long days, and super fun activities. It feels like the recess period to our normally academic lives.

Most people love summer. And while I love wonderful outdoor weather, baseball, fresh produce, and time on the lakes, I differ with most people in the all-consuming summer worship.

On the positive side, summer reminds me of childhood. It actually rejuvenates the child within me, when I take the time to enjoy its nutrients. But, as it reminds me of childhood, that reminder also confirms that I am no longer a child. In fact, my years removed from childhood somehow increase year from year ;)

It’s a season of extremes, and I’m a girl of balance. It’s a reminder to take in the sunshine in life, all while the calm in me seeks a bit more of the darkness. The days are long and the nights are short; more time to play, but less time to rest. And with time and age, that rest is golden.

As we speedboat ever close to Labor Day weekend, the weekend that signals, essentially, the end of summer, I look back on yet another high flying, barely sleeping summer of fun-loving.

Our summer kicked off Memorial Day weekend in Traverse City. We spent 5 days with my folks, and my brother and his wife, mixing in a larger family party and meeting up with various friends. It’s hard to have a bad time in Traverse City, even when the storms dominated our days. In all actuality, the storms made for an awesome setting, and I loved rocking on the porch, chatting with family, as the rain poured down and thunder rattled the house. Pretty cool setting. That was also the weekend we moved from sleeping spot to sleeping spot, as the thrift store air mattress deflated upon laying on it. Luckily my folks have a nice RV, and that ended up being parked in the driveway for most of our visit. We had a ton of laughs that weekend, and that is what stands out the most.

We werealso blessed to have a caravan of Sam’s family make the long trek up from northern Florida. We had a house full, and at times, an absurdity of driving and hashing out plan logistics, but it was a great week. Having so many family members in our house really touched my wife’s heart, as it did mine. We probably drank way too much, and slept way too little, but again…it’s the laughs and adventures that stand out the most, and we will all remember them for years to come.

Our summer was filled to the brim with Detroit Tigers games (a wonderful Suite-Up invitation), a once in a lifetime opportunity to be on the grass for batting practice at Comerica Park, numerous walks around the lake with my wife and dogs, a concert with my sister and niece, a trip to the zoo with my dear friend and her kids, boating with my brother and his wife, a great picnic reunion with one side of my family (more drinking and laughter), farmer’s markets, water slides, kayaking, and wonderful evening strolls in various downtown venues. Our short little season included more events and moments than I recall, or possibly include in this short blog.

Ours was a summer of visits; whether friends or family. In parts, the visits were exhausting, but more parts were memorable. After all it’s not the sleep we remember years later, it’s the people and the time spent together.

And even though I’m anxious for the arrival of my favorite season, fall, I keep in mind…

Summer lovin, had me a blast, summer lovin, happened so fast…

It’s Only Sports After All – My Reprieve From Exile

I haven’t blogged in awhile. Call it a summer heat filled dry spell. I just haven’t felt inspired or had the energy.

Often I get myself back into the swing of things by writing about sports; one of my great loves and passions.

But the truth is, I’m sick of hearing about sports. I’m sick of sports chatter. It’s a sad moment in my world.

I’m sick of the constant barrage of endless opinions, debates, and mostly, hostility. It’s one thing to share information, or challenge views, and another to encircle a hostile environment where once there was enjoyment.

The online world which connects people, aligns fans and foes, has also chiseled away at the fun in my fandom. The negativity never stops. The “to the death” debates and name calling never hear the halftime whistle. It’s more exhausting than playing the game itself.

My Detroit Tigers. Forget it. I can’t even check online without being offended, offending another, or reading terse word after terse word that make me want to missile myself towards the Belle Tire banner at Comerica Park. Twitter and the Tigers; a combination that is certainly Valium worthy.

And as excited as I am for college football and my U of M Wolverines, I’m not sure I’m ready for four months of dysfunctional UM/MSU chatter. I like one team, you like another team. Get the fuck over it and move on. Sheesh! Little Brother, Walmart Wolverine; it’s all in good fun, when it’s actually fun. More than not, it’s a hostile family Thanksgiving where Uncle Ed is drunk, Aunt Marie burned the turkey, and crazy cousin Al just found the shot-gun.

And my Lions. I can’t wait for my Lions. But, if I see another “I’m Lions free” tweet after a singular Lions loss, I may violently roar myself into oblivion. Anyone who is Lions free, truly Lions free, doesn’t tweet about them, or talk about them, or certainly watch them. Give it a rest. You are NOT Lions free. You were previously Lions frustrated, and rightfully so. We all have lived through years of intestinal torture. But, don’t torture other fans with that nonsense.

Must we steal the joy of sports from each other? Can’t we cheer together, or cheer opposite each other, with a sense of fun and entertainment? These are games. These are teams. They are nothing more. In one of my favorite songs, the Indigo Girls sing “it’s only life after all.” And if that is true of the bigger picture, then they are “only games, after all.” Win some, and lose some… and hopefully learn to enjoy moments along the way.

Happy sports watching, all…

Fear and Happiness

It’s an odd social commentary when something “clicks” while watching an old episode of Rescue Me. But, there I was, last evening, watching a Season 4 episode of the show I just discovered a couple months back. In the episode, Tommy’s father is dispensing some wisdom and tells his son “facing your fears is an important part of life.”

Now, this sentiment isn’t ground breaking information. I have heard many variations on this theme more too often. But, for whatever reason, hearing it last night made me exhale.

You see, I have a dentist appointment this Thursday. And I have had a few appointments of similar ilk in the last few months, and they haven’t gone so well. Early on in my life, I had very little hesitation with the dentist, but as some negative experiences built up in the last few years, so has my anxiety deepened. The anxiety is to the point of tears when trying to get myself to walk into the dental office. It’s something that causes me great shame, to say the least. Regardless of the irrational nature of it all, obviously I have developed a fear.

And though I have told myself one variation or another on the facing fears scenario, as have my partner, family and coworkers, something clicked when it I heard it last night.

What I realized about my anxiety and related fear is that it’s taking away from my happiness. When I have a dental appointment looming in the distance, I fret about it; I actually lose sleep at times. Even during pleasant evening or weekend activities out and about, my mind will wander to the inevitability of my upcoming dental appointment; and my happiness in the moment is zapped.

Analyzing and scratching my head over it all made me realize, that at least for me, fear is the enemy to happiness. Or at the very least the act of not facing fears is the enemy to happiness.

In sharing any thoughts I always put a disclaimer out there; obviously some fear is natural, and some fear warranted. Sometimes, fear warns us of legitimate danger.

But, very often, we fear things that most likely will do us no danger; things that often never even occur. And the focus on and desire to avoid fearful things clouds otherwise sunny moments.

To be honest, I’m embarrassed at the fear I have allowed to fill parts of my life. As a child, I was pretty fearless. As a young adult, still was pretty fearless. As time and scary experiences have affected me, the fears have mounted.

I still think of myself as a person not overly affected by fears; but the truth is, I’m not actually that afraid of many things. I’m not one to fear death, so that helps out in the large catastrophe type fears.

I don’t think I’ll ever be completely done with fear in this lifetime, nor should I be. But, I must remind myself to face appropriate fears whenever possible. Doing so not only helps me get over the fears, it keeps my happiness in the forefront. And in the end, life is about being happy. It’s certainly not about being afraid, or hiding from fear.

The “Suite” Intersection of Twitter and Sports

Last night, Sam and I had the pleasure of joining a Tigers “Suiteup” with some cool Detroit folks. Before entering the suite for the game, we were honored and privileged to witness batting practice. It was cool and surreal to actually stand on the field, yards from Tigers smashing balls into the massive Comerica Park outfield. Thank you, Andy Hetzel!

Discussion in suite, pre-game, appropriately wandered into topics such as sports, fans, and Twitter. I walked back into the suite, after checking out our seats, to hear comments about my balanced approach to sports tweeting. Apparently I’m a sports Twitter friend that our host, Andy, can stand. Although his comments were appreciated and quite nice, he’s obviously missed some of my Sunday afternoon angry Lions fan tweets. Those aren’t pretty! Or, as Jim Leyland would say, those rants are “another story for another day.”

In the last couple years, however, I have noticed that Twitter has actually calmed my outbursts in some ways, because I’m able to watch hundreds of irrational and momentary responses, and realize I have allowed myself to equally fall off the rails.

Now, some of my frustration with team results has often been superseded by Twitter frustrations; it’s a war zone out there during and after games. Wear protective gear, at all costs!

What Twitter, and the combination of sports and Twitter, has made me realize is that many people think that just because they have a forum to speak (Twitter, Facebook, Message Boards, etc) that they know what they are talking about. Most of the time, most of us don’t really have a clue. And though I love sports and I applaud the passion of sports fans, most really don’t know what they are talking about. Most are really just venting, tweet after tweet….

When it comes to baseball, in particular, it’s evident that our fast paced world with instant opinions desiring instant gratification doesn’t mirror the flavor of the sport. Baseball is a long and grueling endeavor. It’s a day to day battle, with numerous ups and downs, that doesn’t always play well to an hour by hour examination.

And yes, most sports fans have their opinions. I have mine. It’s the same with opinions on politics, the economy, religion, and social issues. But they are all opinions. They aren’t fact, they aren’t gospel, and often, they are more emotional discharges than they are calm and rational discourse.

Lately with sports fans, especially many online, it seems people would rather put their stake in the ground, owning an opinion….and they won’t budge from it, seemingly hoping it true more than wanting to see team success. It is odd to me…

In the end, I love the twitter forum, really more than I ever thought I could. It allows me to not only share views, but keep abreast of what others are thinking and what’s happening out there around our globe. More than all of that, however, twitter has allowed me to meet so many great people that I would have otherwise never known, and it’s brought me some very cool experiences.

Many folks continue to encourage me to increase my sports blogging, so I’m going to “get on that.” After all, “they” say to write about what you know and what you love…. And for me, that is sports…as much as any of us can really “know” about sports. Play ball!

Don’t Go Judging Lady Gaga

The problem with quick judgment is Lady Gaga. I say that because, back a couple of years ago when Lady Gaga first burst onto the scene in tar, feathers, and metal spikes, I jumped to judgment. And when she arrived at the Grammy’s in an egg, making a typical artistic statement of overwhelming proportions, I jumped to judgment. “She is a whack job. What a crazy attention seeker.” On and on I felt and went.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s really not my style to dress, or enjoy dress, the way Lady Gaga defines it. But nonetheless, my quick judgment almost led me astray, missing out on some kick-ass tunes. Sure, Lady Gaga still very well might be a whack job and attention seeker, but she’s also a pretty interesting and electrifying singer. And in the end, even if I listened and decided she wasn’t my speed, it’s important to at least listen before judging.

In the end, Lady Gaga is a singer, an entertainer. And as a singer, she’s pretty darn good. I find most of her music to be, at the bare minimum, rather enjoyable listening material. It’s probably matters very little what outlandish wrapping she presents herself in, or which shades of velvet she paints on her face.

I realize that it’s a pretty big leap from Lady Gaga to other people or subjects I encounter. But just the same, quick knee reaction judgment is still quick knee reaction judgment.

Judgment; it’s big with “us.” It’s a societal norm, and I’m fairly certain we weren’t born THAT way.

Don’t get me wrong, we need some judgment. We judge behaviors, actions, and results on a daily basis. And we should. Breaking into my neighbors’ house and stealing his belongings is a wrong behavior. And I’m making a judgment call in defining it as such. As a society and as human beings, we develop and share and live together with “accepted” judgment. I don’t think civilization will ever really exist without it. Nor should it, really…

It’s a balancing act.

I challenge myself daily to explore my judgments and assess if they are based on appropriate expectations. And it’s also important to distinguish judgment from preference. I may prefer a singer like Lady Gaga to Jay-Z, and that doesn’t necessarily define me as being “judgmental” against Jay-Z. I simply prefer Lady Gaga.

Where does that balance belong?

Where is the acceptable line of judgment? Where does preference blur into judgment?

As a gay person in a society that is still unraveling its homophobic tendencies, I’m all too familiar with judgment; and quick judgment at that. Some people have predetermined that who I am, and who I marry, is sinful or less than. They place judgment on an aspect of my life, and thus think of or treat me differently, or separately. The truth is, however, with many people I have met over the years who may not have liked or understood my sexuality initially, once they looked beyond their knee jerk judgment and based their assessment of me on the core of my being, their judgment often faded away.

It seems the idea of judgment is very complex. It’s certainly not a black and white subject with an easy and clear answer. But it does seem, more than not, that judgment is fear based. Even if we judge something as bad, and it “truly” is such, our judgment even if rightfully so, stems from fear.

And sometimes fear is good; fear can warn us of danger. But, it’s doubtful that Lady Gaga is really all that dangerous, nor is a loud mouth fan of another sports team, nor is the relationship between me and my wife.

So, where I actually embrace appropriate judgment required in daily living, I encourage myself to look closely at the things I judge and make sure my judgment is warranted. In the end, I might be more saddened by the things I miss in life, than the things I avoid. That approach may not be living on the “Edge of Glory”, but it is an approach that may broaden my world with some very fun tunes.

Panic Coaster in Tigers Town

My step dad and I are sports buddies. Whether on email or via phone, we communicate nearly daily and it’s prominently sports discussion.

We exchanged some Tigers thoughts over the last couple of weeks, which led to him sending me the following email note: “You should write for the Detroit News, and work for the Tigers – and I’m serious.”

Since I don’t write for the Detroit News, and the Tigers won’t return my calls, this blog is the next best thing. My readership is just slightly off the Detroit News pace, but thoughts are still worth sharing (at least my folks seem to think so).

I started this blog last week, but got busy and didn’t get very far. At the time, I had titled the blog “Panic in Tigers Town.” Interesting enough, they have won a few games since then, and have a shot at winning a series today with JV on the mound.

It’s interesting how panic works.

Regardless of them winning or not today, it still feels like there is a great deal of panic around our Tigers, and justifiably so. They have been putrid. There is no other way to say it. It’s not just that they have not lived up to expectations; they have not. And it’s not because they haven’t scored the runs envisioned; they have not. And it’s not because we haven’t seen all facets of the game working in tandem to get on a hot streak; we have not.

It’s because it’s been brutally awful baseball to watch, game after game.
Baseball is a game about stats. Most sports are pretty statistics heavy. But, a real lover of the game knows that many important things go beyond the stats; truth lies deeper. If you watch the game day in and day out, you get a feel for things. Otherwise why would we play the games or watch the games? A GM could simply formulate a team with all the appropriate stats in place, have a statistical reviewer run the team, and we all could barely watch from afar, although why would we bother?
Stats provide us with data. But watching the games and understanding the games provides us with information; with the bigger story.

And for the Tigers the story has been a horror film. And the story has been a boring horror film, at that; a real yawner.

With all of that being said, the situation is not dire; at least not long term. I hear rumor after rumor; trade Fielder, trade Cabrera. I hear lots of arbitrary and dramatic moves to try and appease the panic. But, reactions of that nature are not needed. The Tigers are fine with the power boys at the corners. Cabrera is serviceable at third base, and Fielder should work into being serviceable at first, as well. The Tigers still have a strong core to work from and work with.
To fix them, long term, seems pretty simple to me; baseball is a game of strength up the middle. If the Tigers had strong defensive players at shortstop and second base, and if those guys were capable “get on base” hitters with decent speed, I would be pretty happy. The problem is the Tigers have a revolving hole at second, and a player with no range currently at shortstop. That doesn’t play well with Cabrera and Fielder at the corners. So, instead of trading away two of the best hitters in baseball, how about taking a logical and calm approach and shore up second and shortstop?
The Tigers have strength up in the middle in the outfield and I feel have enough outfielders to work with; and outfielders are much easier to fit into a line-up.

Fix shortstop and second base and this team is much improved. I would throw in the general “pitching” comments, but we all know the importance of pitching. No need to state the obvious. But, pitching hasn’t really been that bad with our Tigers; defense and lack of timely hitting seems the bigger issues. The bullpen certainly had its struggles out of the gate, but it seems that there is talent in the pen; that talent just needs to perform.

And let’s not forget, most teams have holes and flaws; that’s baseball. The good teams rise above it, the bad teams sink in the holes.

What will our Tigers do? How will they handle those holes? I don’t even think the Baseball Gods know the answers to those questions. But, one thing is certain; the panic rollercoaster flies at high speed. Fasten your seat belts and keep your hands inside the car 

An Open Letter to America, from this Gay Lady

Interesting timing, as I finished this letter before President Barack Obama made his historic declaration regarding same-sex marriage.  Now, a declaration of support is a long way from enacting laws that provide rights, but just the same, it’s a huge step.  The first, hopefully, of many.  On to my letter…

This is not a break up letter, or a Dear John letter.  You don’t leave the things you love that easily.  But, when someone or something you love mistreats you, you stand up against it.  You make your voice heard.  You demand better.

You don’t leave.  Lovers, fighters, Americans don’t divorce things that easily.  You stay, you fight, and you make it work.  It’s the American way. Isn’t it?

I’ve heard throughout the years, after numerous discriminating votes, abusive phrases like “if you don’t like it, leave it,” and “America has spoken.”  In honest and real terms, those phrases mean “suck up the mistreatment, and accept the crumbs you receive.”

Is that what America really is?  Is America really about sucking up “less than” treatment?  The America I read about in history books and watched on film is a place envisioned to be a safe haven for the “others”.  America is a place that a majority would never override the rights of the minority.  That is America’s safe haven ideal.  That’s what we should be.

But that’s not what we really have become.  It’s not what we have been, throughout many grand failures.  The horrendous missteps over generations, from racial discrimination to female discrimination; America’s track record isn’t as enlightened as we would like to think.

But the ideal, at the core of our beliefs, is that America is a place of inclusion rather than exclusion.  For a place to really be inclusive it should be such to a diverse range of people, not just a select comfortable few; otherwise the inclusive verbiage just doesn’t fit the behavior.

I’m an American.  I’m a woman.  And I’m gay.  I’m a gay American.  I’m not sure if I call myself proud to be gay, as it’s just something I happen to be.  I’m proud that I’m open and honest about being gay, that is for sure.  And I’m happy to be gay.  Being gay has led me to my wife.  And it’s led me to being a more compassionate person who appreciates inclusion from others.  I don’t overlook the important role that inclusion has in my life; and the role it plays in most lives.    And I use it when I cultivate friendships with people of varying backgrounds and beliefs.  Because of inclusive behavior, my life is richer in its totality.

I’m a good person.  I care about people. And I not only care about others, I do things to make sure others know that I care about them.  And that’s rare these days.  These days, people spend more time trying to convey a message about themselves, rather than convey a concerning message towards someone else.  It’s an epidemic.  And unlike love between committed adults, any committed adults, the epidemic of “lacking concern for others” is a moral issue.  Instead of isolating select love as a “moral crisis,” perhaps America can isolate the lack of love for others as the bigger concern.

But, I digress…

Back to you, America….

I’ve been with you since the day I was born; 1974, Southfield, Michigan.  And let’s be clear from the start, I appreciate the relationship we have had for all of those nearly 38 years.  I realize that as an American my life has come with advantages that others around the world could really only dream of having.  I’ve been raised in a country that for most of my years has been a beacon to the rest of the world; and you can’t really underestimate how satisfying it feels to be admired for positive traits.  America is a bit boastful, and has often had reasons to boast; charitable citizens, helpful to others around the world, wealth that has led to greater standards of life, and a true melting pot of religious, ethnic, and cultural ingredients.  America the beautiful!

My Mom once told me that she thought I was one of the most patriotic people she knew.  I’m not sure how she came to that determination, but I took it as a compliment, and still take it as such today.  I am patriotic.  I love my country.  I love it in a way that you love a parent, or a child.  We are tied, eternally, to our families.  We see flaws in our families, and bicker with our families.  We also strive for “better” with various family members.  Family is one of the greatest rewards in life, and its relationships are also some of the toughest roads to travel.  Family; it’s like love of country.  It’s at the core of our beings and very central in our lives.

I love America.

I’m a gay American.

And I’m not leaving.

I’m standing here and demanding what I deserve; equal and fair treatment.  I know, without hesitation, that history will stand on the side of fairness and equality.

Decades ago, people fought about racial injustice.  Decades ago, people fought about inter-religious marriage, and inter-racial marriage.  Most of these injustices were based on fear, coupled with selective and hypocritical religious judgment.  Such judgment completely misses the boat on the separation of church and state; a corner stone to American society.  But the judgment goes further than that.  The judgment challenges the core of the American ideal; inclusion.  The judgment allows a powerful majority to disperse unfair treatment to a powerless minority.

The judgment is not a gay issue, it’s an American issue.  Americans should be livid.  Americans should be appalled.  All Americans, gay or not, should demand better.

For the life of me, I’ll never understand the fear and/or hatred towards gay people.  But, the truth is, I don’t really need to understand it.  People are allowed their own feelings and beliefs.   What I don’t understand is how our country continues to do this dance with inequality, one minority group at a time.  This argument, honestly, seems so “last century.”  In a world of wars, of disease, of poverty, and hunger, are we really fighting about two adults committing to love one another?  Are we really fighting about gay marriage?  Seriously, America, come on….

I could share cliché thought after cliché thought, like:  “if my gay marriage negatively affects your marriage than it says something about the quality of your marriage.”  But, I won’t go there.  That’s obvious.  I could ask discriminating heterosexuals to tell me, exactly, why their relationship is superior to mine, but I won’t go there, either.  That is nonsense.  It’s crazy talk.  We are having a nonsensical crazy family argument at the Thanksgiving Day table; this is that drunk holiday conversation that will only go in circles.  It’s pure lunacy!  And it’s time those on the side of equality starting calling it such; lunacy!

I’m blessed to have many heterosexual friends and family in my life that “get it.”  At times I have thanked some of them for their inclusive nature and unbridled support.  And often the response I have received has been “of course. “  And, “don’t thank me for being or doing or saying what is right.”  It’s funny, as a minority, I am ultra “appreciative” of the people in my life that actually do what I would expect them to do; what I would do for them.  But, the demand for equality takes more than gay people.  That’s what I recognize and that is why I’m ultra-appreciative.  It takes everyone.  Gays can’t do it alone.

Back in the early days of the civil rights movement, it took more than African Americans to demand equality.  It took many Americans to do what is expected of all Americans; stand for justice and stand for equality.

I use to say that we need to “fight” for equality.  But that sounds combative and that sounds like one side wins and the other side loses.  There should be no sides here.  I prefer to demand equality.  Like any relationship in my life, my relationship with my country has its challenges.  But, I won’t hide from those challenges and I won’t divorce myself from this lifelong relationship.  I’m demanding the treatment I deserve and I won’t stop demanding it until it’s received.  And even then, like a nagging wife, I’ll continue to demand the treatment I know…I KNOW…I deserve!  That everyone deserves….

With eternal love and hopefulness…

 

Tigers start hot as Red Wings hope to heat up

TIGERS TWO-STEP

Anyone in Metro Detroit is familiar with the motto “April in the D.”  It’s become not only a slogan, but an anthem in recent years.  April in the D is an awesome time because April brings the start to our Tigers, and typically the start of playoffs for our Red Wings and Pistons.  This year, as with last year, April is the end to Pistons misery, but for the 21st consecutive year, it’s the start of a Red Wings playoff run.

April, with warmth, sunshine, and flurries, has been only hot for our Tigers.  Most people in baseball predicted the Tigers to win the Central Division and be a competing force for a championship.  So, their start hasn’t been too shocking.  But, nonetheless, the way they have ripped off such a start has been outstanding.  The punch of Cabby and Fielder looks to be a double barreled force that could beam the baseball world for years to come.

That combination, coupled with hot starts of players like Austin Jackson and Alex Avila, has made the Tigers line-up steaming hot.  Justin Verlander, as expected, came out throwing needled darts on Opening Day.  The pitching has yet to round into form, with a potentially brutal blow of losing Doug Fister for a stint, Max Scherzer bringing his Bad Max impression to his first start, and Jose Valverde blowing his first save since 2010.

Even with a hurt Fister, a bad Max, and a blown potato cake, the Tigers started the season 4-0, until finally losing their first game today (they now sit at 4-1).    Action Jackson is taking walks, and Cabby is more than holding his own at 3rd.  And fans have yet to curse the name Gene Lamont.  Not too shabby.  Keep it up, April!

RED WINGS

Even though the Red Wings skated through the meat of their season hotter than a steak on the grill, their last couple of months have included little sizzle.  With a rash of injuries, and lately, a scoring drought of Global Warming proportions, the playoff run starts without much fanfare.

I will be honest in saying that this is probably the first time in over 20 years when I will sit and watch my Red Wings  begin the postseason , and I won’t possess that annoying Hockeytown swagger.  My confidence is shaken.

I’m not sure if the recent cold streak has left me frigid or frail.  If their inability to score, like a hooker at morgue, has me frustrated or concerned.  Or if the special teams discrepancy between Detroit and Nashville has me rattled like a Cowboy on Rodeo Drive.

I just don’t know what to expect.

I sadly say I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Red Wings lose this first round series.  But on the flip side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them win the series, either.

That’s the funny thing with confidence; it takes awhile to build, and can often be quickly shaken.  That’s the situation for me, as a fan.  But I suspect that confidence, in reality, may be what the Red Wings actually have on their side.  They are confident, even if I am not.

They have a dressing room full of experienced and calm players, and I have to suspect they feel they can win the series.  And, with any sports, that is half the battle.

Normally I like to predict a series, but in this case, I’ll honestly say I can’t get a read.  At times, in my gut, I fear that my feeling says “this isn’t the year for our Red Wings.”  But, in another moment, I remember their resiliency, skill, and experience, and I say to myself “stop your fear based whining and just wait and see.”  So, that is what I will do.

I’ll sit quietly next to my shaken confidence, and hope my Red Wings use their own confidence to light the lamp and heat things up!