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Garth and his dog …

I saw the man, clad in Harley Davidson apparel with wild long hair, walk into Smith’s.  He caught my attention because of the beautiful German Shepherd that accompanied him into the store.  The dog had a vest on and a clear sign stating, “DO NOT PET.”  I continued down the aisle and told Rizzi that when I’m older I want to get a therapy dog for my anxiety.  I began to imagine what it would be like to have a dog assist me in panic attacks … even thinking about it calmed my over-anxious mind.

We rounded the corner of the aisle and the man and his dog were walking up behind us.  I waited for the pair and as they approached me I told the man I loved his dog.  The man was large, standing at least 6’3″ and weighing at least two of me.  He smiled and became soft instantaneously.  The brawn disappeared as this man introduced me to his dog, who sat between me and the big man.  Her name is Ruzzo.  As we talked she began to lick my hand and her tail swished across the tiled floors.  Without thinking I patted her head.  I stopped and apologized to the man.  He smiled broadly and told me I could pet her as much as I liked.  I knelt down and began to give Ruzzo full body rubs and kisses on her narrow head, her tail never stopped wagging.

I asked the man if she was a therapy dog.  The man told me that he is a therapy human for his dog.  Turns out Ruzzo was a dog in the Iraq war and she was so traumatized that the military released her from her duty.  She suffers from anxiety and PTSD.  The man went on to tell me that he and Ruzzo had a lot in common.  I immediately understood that this man also suffers from wounds unseen.  I stood up and hugged him.  He hugged me back, tightly.  He then told me that Ruzzo had the worst of it and I should give her a hug, which I did without hesitation.

When I stood back up the man introduced himself as Garth.  We shook hands, but each of us probably could have used another hug.  I began asking questions about how he got involved with his work with dogs and if he had other dogs he’s helped with anxiety.  He told me about on dog so far gone that many people thought he was putting himself at risk living with her.  He never mentioned the dog’s name but I knew she was special to him and that she was no longer around.  His eyes hurt and loved in ways he couldn’t articulate.

Garth then spoke German commands to Ruzzo and she promptly complied by laying down.  He gave another command and Ruzzo sat back up with an alert look in her eyes.  I told him I was impressed.  Garth then told me that one of the reasons he took her to the store at that moment was because a thunder-storm was on its way and the thunder “freaks her out.”  He said that the music and amount of people make it hard for her to hear the thunder.

Ruzzo was primarily used as a bomb detection dog, which meant she was shot at often.  Though never receiving a bullet wound, Garth said that Ruzzo had so many near misses that any loud noises trigger her into a quivering mess.  The 4th of July is especially difficult for her.  Ruzzo started licking my hand again.  I bent down and kissed her on her head and gave her scritches on her back.  She leaned into me while she took a piece of me.

I thanked Garth for his time and told him I would be on the look out for him again.  He said, “I see you’re married.”  I told him I was.  He looked disappointed.  I told him we could still remain friends.  He said, “I was hoping for someone who could spend time with me and my dog.”  I told him anything is possible.  He smiled and nodded.  I smiled and walked away.  I should have hugged him one more time and kissed Ruzzo again while I had the chance.

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Being Civil is a Two Way Street

In 2004 I publicly acknowledged that I loved another woman. I was a recently divorced mother of two and the choice to live authentically wasn’t a difficult decision to make. I wanted my children to understand that being honest wasn’t just a buzzword, but a distinct way of living requiring direct actions and words.

Of course I wasn’t so naive to believe that my involvement with LGBTQ political actions and social activism wouldn’t have backlash in my personal life. I also understood that having children presented more risks and worries, as many citizens in the great state of Utah feel fit to make commentary on our life style in restaurants, bookstores, and grocery stores. When my son and daughter were 6 and 5 we (as a family) were picking out children’s books in our local Hasting’s. A large man in his 50’s towered over my 5’1” frame and stated, “Fucking dykes.”

This is only one illustration of the numerous times my family has been confronted by ignorance and hate. Before you say, “well, its not everyone who feels this way” I must stop you. Unless you’ve been marginalized or are part of a minority group, how do you know? How can I (or you) possibly know who does and does not hate me, or my family, because I love another woman? Each time we make a decision to leave our home and enter a public space we run the risk of being diminished by words of hate or actions that instill fear.

In all of this I’m told, time and time again, to remain civil. Even large groups like HRC and Equality Utah, who claim to be champions or defenders of LGBTQ people, have told these communities to remain civil and start conversations. The problem, as I see it, is that these groups that spout out hate disguised as religion are not interested in talking or coming to understand our lives.

Proof of this lies in last weeks “Stand For the Family Conference”, held at the Utah State Capitol. Family Watch International hosted the event and Eric Ethington wrote a great expose on the complications of these groups, to include their ties to other hate groups.      http://nuancestillmatters.com/?p=14406

Equality Utah also released a statement, after the organizers of the event utilized gay fathers and lesbian mothers pictures with their children, telling the room full of people the inherent risks these children face by being raised by gay parents. The statement by Equality Utah reads, in part,

“We are deeply concerned after learning that photos of our community members with their bright and beautiful children were used as anti-marriage equality propaganda at a rally at the Utah State Capitol yesterday.

It is a disgrace to use our families for a misguided and debunked view of what is best for children. It is one thing to disagree with the freedom to marry, it’s quite another to go after loving parents and their children at a political rally. That is not an example of the family values in which Utahns take deep pride.”

The problem with this statement is …. THIS IS NOTHING NEW! Why now? Why are we now angry that our children are being used as propaganda? Did Prop 8 not prove that religious organizations and hate groups would be willing to use our children as scapegoats? Our children have been the center of an argument that extends past my “coming out.”

Did Equality Utah, or any other LGBTQ organization, not see the writing on the wall when we have been pushed out of political debate? Hell these organizations were placated by discussions with church leaders and asked that all supporters be patient as a dialogue was being created with the hopes that the next legislative session would see non-discrimination laws passed state wide. How did that work out for you? Because for me, it didn’t do jack shit!  It did not help ease the burden of my increasing medical costs, though my partner had benefits she could not extend to me. This cow towing did nothing for my sense of security for the future.

Be civil? Why? Who does that benefit? The oppressor or the oppressed? Being civil is a two-way street, however LGBTQ people have been asked to remain on a one-way street of civility and patience. We have been asked repeatedly, by allies and foes, to be patient and to be kind. Fuck you. Fuck you for asking my kids to remain silent in the face of hate. Fuck you for your brand of love and fuck you for not standing up for ALL OF US throughout the last decade I’ve been involved. The general public and my “own” people have shunned me. It is about damn time you take a stand that matters, not one that will garner more donations and political clout.

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Day 4

Remember, when I started this venture, I said there may be a day that I only write a sentence or two, but that I would try my hardest to write something?  Yeah, well, I’m not coming up with anything good to talk about.  No interesting articles, no burning issues, no real substance that I feel needs to be written about today.  So with that … have a fanfuckingtastic day!

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Rich Thompson

*** This was a letter written a week ago***

 

Two men have paved a path in my life.  Sonny Ricks and Rich Thompson, born on the same day, in the same year, took care of a very younger me.  They each have watched me stumble through awkward youth and each eased my mind with their wit and humor along the way.  When I think of my past and the men that have graced (or cursed) my life, both of you are my favorite men.  Each of you knew how to take life with humor, no matter the circumstance.  To this day humor has been my medicine for all that ails me.  I really can’t thank either of you enough for the impact you’ve had on the human being I’ve become.

How do you quantify and encapsulate these memories?  How can a simple letter convey the lasting hold, like deep seated roots, in your memories and essence of who you have become?  This is my feeble attempt at letting you know how much you run through the corridors of my mind.

Perhaps I’ll start with, fuck you cancer.

You see, when I was a young girl I dealt with fear with irrational behavior.  You knew me well then.  You knew me to be an outspoken-vulgar-rebel.  Though these qualities haven’t changed much, I have learned to deal with fear by running away, to deny the fear even exists.  Knowing that you battle a fight each day scares the fuck out of me.  It cripples me.  It leaves me silent.

What a horrible friend I’ve been, hiding in my own fears while you face them.  And though my burdens are not yours to bear, I wanted to tell you that I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I haven’t been a vocal cheerleader in your fight.

I’ve stared down the barrel of cancer before … being a spectator has been more difficult.  More trying.  Perhaps you won’t understand what I mean but doing the fighting has always been easier than having ring side seats.  The anxiety of watching overwhelms me.  Of course I silently close my eyes and wish for the best outcome (which is usually what happens right!?).  I just can’t seem to open my eyes to the reality of the situation … with open eyes I have to examine my own fears and your battle becomes mine and cancer scares me all over again.  I’ve ran from that bitch far too long, but I’m not ready to face her quite yet.  She lurks in my daily activities, she hides behind my children and she plagues my dreams with thoughts of death.  And that one little word will always cause panic for me.

But then there is you … a fighter, confronter and optimistic you!  You really are one of the lights of the universe.  Even in pain, anguish and sickness you take time to comfort others.  Who are you?! 🙂   Sincerely, you are one of the craziest, funniest, most sincere persons I’ve had the pleasure to know.

Perhaps you are the very definition of hope.  You are what give people the nerve to try.  You are what people look to for inspiration.  You are a symbol of resilience.  And let’s be honest, this goes far beyond cancer.  Every time you’ve been knocked on your ass you pick yourself up and keep pushing back!  Giving up has never been an option for you.  Rich gets what Rich wants … silently telling a story to all those around him that hope is the ingredient to get shit done.

Hope is you Rich.

I love you!  I love who you are, who you were and who you will be.

And of course, this letter would never be complete without talking about Christel.  What a damn saint!  She is THE best human being out there!  If you are hope, she is patience and love.  Her love for you is unmatched by any other.  I can only imagine that Christel alone is worth every treatment, every poison you must ingest.  Her infectious optimism is a medicine you are lucky to be surrounded by.  How she maintains, manages and cares for all of you is a mystery, as I know many people who would buckle under the pressure.  This isn’t to say that she doesn’t have days of being overwhelmed or that she doesn’t allow the feelings to penetrate her heart, but speaks of her resolve and strength.  Friend, your beautiful wife is stronger than you or I can ever be.

I know we are never supposed to talk about “if …”  But if something happens to you Rich, I’ll be a better friend to Christel than I have been with you.  Though I know she is surrounded by so many that love her, I just wanted to let you know that I won’t fuck this one up.  Both of you are a large part of who I was … and who I became.

Hang in there friend!  Fighting can be wearisome work, but the prize at the end of the fight has you forgetting the pain of the past.  That clean bill of health is only a few more blows away and I promise I’ll open up my eyes to watch the glorious win!

Warm Regards and lots of love,

Marcy

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Natural History Museum of London

In London, sitting outside at a small cafe next to the Natural History Museum watching children run after pigeons and adults gripping cardboard coffee cups, discussing evolution and government.  Dark threatening clouds blot out the sun only to be replaced with clear skies, taking turns in altering human behavior.  Jackets on …. Jackets off.

Pigeons surround my feet, begging for a reprieve from kicking children.

Though the museum artifacts offered me no new surprises the building is an architectual wonder.  The craftsmanship is stunning and as I watched people I was even more surprised. Men and women stood with cameras distorting their face.  Picture, turn to the left, another picture.  Snap … Snap … Snap … move along.  Not one person took the time to touch the walls, feel the outline of the carved flowers.  Not one person stood sill, with cameras at their side and just stood in the grandeur of the building.  Not one parent ask their child(ren) to just enjoy a moment of stillness and quiet at the magnificence of where they stood.  Lofty expectations for adults who did not have time to slow down.

As my mood becomes somber so the clouds blot out the sun.

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2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,300 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Cowboys, Death and Old Books

Part of my job is educating the public on what is expected when they use inmates for Community Service details.  Though boring, it does help to get on the same page.  Most of the citizens (for lack of a better endearing term) are not the same age as me, most of them are at least a decade older.  I find it intimidating, at times, to stand in front of a room full of mostly older, and let’s be honest, “hickish” men.  I mean, they have to be thinking to themselves, what could this little girl possibly know?  I’m not a big person, standing at 5’1″ (though in my mind I’m 6’3″) and about 100 pounds (again, I belive I”m 250).  Most of them are wearing cowboy hats, Wranglers are the only pants worn, they have worn leathery faces and you can see they have worked outdoors most their lives.  This is not me, I’m much more “city” then any of them.  I assume that I’m what they don’t like and fear is ripping apart their America.

Of a room of 30 or so men maybe half of them actually make eye contact.  A man, that I can only explain as looking like a aged Wyatt Earp, paid attention the whole meeting.  He truly was the cowboy of the group and when I first spotted him he seemed the hardest sell of the group, but he truly gave me his full attention.  During the presentation I couldn’t tell if he was staring at me with a condescending attitude or one of understanding. . truly this man should play ALOT of poker.

After wrapping up and as people were leaving he stayed behind and wanted to ask questions.  I asked if he appreciated the meeting and he, with chew in mouth and a drawl like no other said, “didn’t understand a damn word of it pretty lady.”  I didn’t really have a response ready for this reply.  With a blank stare and speechless (that never happens) I just started laughing.  He laughed with me, put his arm around my shoulders and began asking me questions about a past Lieutenant that I had a great friendship with, his nickname was Duck and it truly was the only name he was ever called.  This friendly cowboy asked me if I was the Marcy that Duck always talked about.  I was stunned, I didn’t really think that Duck talked much about me, though we affectionately gave shit to each other on a daily basis.  When Duck died it was devastating to me, it’s actually the LAST funeral I will ever go to, except my own.

Duck was the first employee I met on my first official day of work at Weber County.  I pulled into the parking lot, full of nervous butterflies and walked towards the employee entrance.  I felt a sense of excitement to begin work with a new County, but fear of the unknown.  This may come as a surprise, but I enjoy perfection.  I enjoy knowing what I’m doing and on this day I was full of doubt.  I pushed to button to be allowed into work.  A distorted voice came over the intercom and I gave them my last name.  As they “buzzed” me in, I walked into a dimly lit room.  It had all the charm of an old school jail.  I noticed, immediately, a pair of cowboy books kicked up on a table, skinny legs wrapped in Wranglers, a newspaper blocking the face of this cowboy and a BIG OL’ black cowboy hat.  Right then the door slammed behind me (I know..steel doors don’t shut silently but I was caught up in the scene and wasn’t thinking.)  I quickly looked back at the door.  Realizing it was still me and “the cowboy” I turned back around.  I now saw the face of an older man, hard work was written across his face, with a piercing stare I’ll never forget.  The cowboy then said to me, “who the fuck are you?”  Without missing a beat, and apparently having no regard for my own safety, I retorted, “question is. . . who the fuck are you?”  With this comment the hardened cowboy grinned ear to ear.  With a chuckle he stood up, put his arm around my shoulder and said, “sweety, were gonna get along just fine.”  And you know what. . he was right.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Duck.  Every morning, without fail, he would say, “morning you fuckin’ hag.”  And my retort, daily, would be “Duck… foreplay so early???”  That same endearing smile would spread across his face.  One morning, out of nowhere with no one around, he grabbed me tight, and cried harder than any man I’ve ever known.  No words were exchanged and I just held him tight.  Thirty seconds went by like this. . crying with no words.  He let me go, looked me in the eyes and said, “thank you, you’ll never know what that means to me.”  To this day I don’t know what was upsetting him so badly, and to be honest it doesn’t matter.  What matters is that he trusted me enough to be all of him. . good, bad and indifferent.  He meant so much to me.  The night before he died he called me.  Wanted me to know how much I meant to him and that I was “one of the smartest people he ever met.”  Truth be known, he taught me more than he will know.  He taught me that, even those with hardened faces and piercing stares, still have endearing hearts and are much softer than they appear.  He taught me that, no matter the situation, there is humor and laughter.  He was generous and sincere, though a smartass through and through.  Whenever his name is mentioned these are a few of the thoughts that cross my mind.

After much reminiscing with this older Wyatt Earp I could tell, that he too, was a gentle person with a big heart.  He was funny, and in good cowboy fashion, a smart ass! 🙂  He told me how Duck talked about me and would tell the “guys” at the fairgrounds that I was a “firecracker” and witty.  Duck was a great storyteller and told many stories of our antics at work.  Though it’s been years since Duck died, I think of him often and to know others are too. . that, to me, is what death is about.  It’s about people remembering you and handing down your story.  It’s also a reminder for me to not judge a book by it’s cover.  Just because it’s dusty, wrinkled and scary looking doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a profound message waiting for you. . you just got to be willing to lift open the cover.

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