Wednesday, June 26, 2013

An Historic Event

Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the sections of the Defense of Marriage Act pertaining to the Federal Government were unconstitutional. It also decided that proponents of  Proposition 8 had no right to defend California's marriage ban at the Court after the state itself refused to appeal a ruling by a lower court overturning the law.

This is an historic day in civil rights. It means that the thousands of people married in the 12 states and District of Columbia that allow same-gender marriage are recognized by our government as legally married - that brings with it literally thousands of rights - from inheritance and Social Security to going through customs together. 

The ruling also means that gay men and lesbian women, who didn't get married before Prop 8 in California can now do so.

What it doesn't do, sadly, is overturn Section Two of DOMA - the part which allows states to decide for themselves whether or not to recognize same-gender marriages performed in another state. So whereas Kelly and I are legally married in California and recognized as a married couple by the Federal Government and a dozen plus other states in the Union, our marriage is not recognized in Utah where we live.

This is akin to a two-tiered system. It relegates gay and lesbian couples and their families to second class citizenship. Imagine the howl that would rise up if Mississippi no longer recognized the marriages of African-Americans joined in Illinois, or if Vermont chose not to recognize marriages performed in the LDS Temples in Utah.

Marriage has always fallen to the states. The good news is that the tide of history is with those who favor equality.
Your humble author at an anti-DOMA march in 1996

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Now I Get It

I used to love sleepovers when I was a kid.  Getting my parents to agree was always a little like being an arms negotiator - every sentence - every word - had to be carefully weighed lest it sink the whole thing.

Honestly, I never understood what the big deal was. Then I became a parent.

Gus had a sleep out with two friends last night. Jack and Ben are twins, who live around the corner from us in the condos. Very nice kids. So, how hard could it be?

Let's see, I put up a ginormous 7-person tent (with two poles left over),  inflated 3 blow up beds, got pizza, popped corn, made drinks, watched some Teen Wolf, awkwardly explained what "circumcision" meant, endured smoke bombs, fart jokes, and sparkler-associated pyromania -  all before they even got in to the tent.

The rest of the evening consisted of me repeatedly telling the boys to go to sleep, Niko stumbling in around 1:00 a.m. (something about the cat on his face), a few more "GO TO SLEEPs" and finally peace and quiet. That is until 4:15 when Jake came in our room and said, "Chris, maybe I should go home. I'm not sleeping."

Wisely Kelly suggested that he move to the spare room. So groggily, I got out of bed, walked him to the spare room, pulled down the covers and got him settled in...all in nothing but my underwear. Yeah, so much for personal privacy and boundaries.

At dawn's first light Gus and Ben bounced back in the house, voices blaring. I thankfully fell back asleep.. until I had to wake up to make 2 different types of eggs and get 2 bowls of cereal.

Oh yeah, now I get it.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

I'm Just Human

If I'm being totally honest, I haven't been enjoying fatherhood too much lately.  I don't think I'm being a very good dad.

First, the kids are out for the summer, which brings a whole new barrel of challenges. Even with all the planned activities and sports, and more toys, games and bikes than a Toy s R Us annex, they still get bored. I'm trying to work from my home office, and that can be a challenge in general without the added pressure of bickering brothers. Brothers, who have taken irritating each other to a new art form.

Now I'm confident enough to realize that I have many admirable attributes. But I'm also self-aware enough to understand that patience with other people and calmly accepting juvenile behavior are not among them. So sometimes my frustration boils over. Sometimes it boils over the way Mount Saint Helens did.

The situation was starting to get me down. I wanted to be the good dad 24/7. But that wasn't the case.

Then on Facebook I saw an essay my friend Anita had posted. It was by a dad, who was honest and frank about his own challenges. Anita is one of the 3-4 people to whom I'm not related, who has known me literally all of my life.  She later told me that she had posted that essay for me.

I'm glad she did.

Because to be totally honest, I am a good dad. Yeah, sometimes I'm not as patient as I should be. Sometimes I blow my top. Sometimes I fail the boys and myself. But that doesn't mean I'm not a good dad. It just means I'm human.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Weapon of Mass Destruction

Whenever my sister, Sandra, would visit us in San Francisco, I'd take her down to Chinatown. Roasted-to-a-crisp ducks hanging in windows, cheap kitschy tchotchkies, more people per square block than any other place in America paled in comparison to our favorite, culturally-insensitive game: What's That Smell.

To be honest, like in all cultures, some of the fragrances were not so enticing to our Greek beaks. But nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing compares to the mind-boggling, noxious "bouquet" of Gus's locker room after 3 on 3 hockey!

His socks alone could be classified as a weapon of mass destruction!

God help me if he ever starts wrestling.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Chef Niko

Niko loves helping in the kitchen.  Whenever I start to cook, he's right there ready to lend a hand. Sometimes it's stirring. Sometimes it's cracking eggs. Sometimes he's my right-hand man...or in his case my left hand man.

Last weekend, per the boys request, I made fresh pasta. For those of you, who may not cook it's actually terribly easy: flour, a couple of eggs, some olive oil, a touch of salt, some water. That's it.

Gus, who originally suggested the idea, decided he didn't want to participate after all. But Niko, oh Niko was right there every minute: pouring and kneading, rolling and cranking.

The only culinary disagreement we had was that whereas 4-foot long noodles are fun, eating them isn't.

And I have to admit, his help proved invaluable.  We had the the pasta made and cooking in the pot in about a third of the time it would have taken me working alone!
The finished product. And yes, I wasn't very persuasive on the noodle length. But that was just fine.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Never Let Them See You Sweat

Apollo, the mighty hunter, believes our family lacks the proper number of rodents and small birds in our diet. So he's taken it upon himself to be our provider.  The canal  across the street, our little stream in the back yard, and the farm behind us are like a mega super store for that cat. We're frequently being lovingly presented with dead things. And not so dead things - like the terrified bird I rescued last weekend

A couple of days ago he brought Kelly a mouse, who escaped - darting underneath furniture in the family room downstairs. At least I was told it was a mouse. You see there's not a whole lot of critters that scare me. Mice certainly don't. They're kind of cute, actually. Rats however scare the bejebus outta me!

And the boys know it.

So this afternoon, when the boys excitedly informed me they'd seen the mouse in the living room, I jumped into action! The poor thing was trapped underneath the television cabinet being stalked by Apollo and poked with the handle of a butterfly net by the boys.

I got down on my stomach trying to snatch it in the net. That's when it happened: Niko described it as having a long, fat tail. Gus confirmed.  What? Mice don't have long, fat tails. They have cute little tails.  We're they sure?

They reiterated the tail's dimensions, and then added, "Daddy, it's not a mouse. It's a little rat. Here it comes! It's a rat!"

In a moment that does absolutely nothing for my masculinity, I jumped - in a single leap - onto a chair, waiting for the demonic rodent to attack.

It raced out from under the stand, hoping Apollo wouldn't see it, darting over Niko's foot. This is what I saw:
I let out a little shriek and let the visible shiver shake its way down the length of my body. The boys burst out laughing. They had seen something similar to this:
So yeah. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe the boys enjoyed seeing a one-ounce mouse cause their dad to nearly soil himself. They laughed and laughed.

I redeemed myself eventually - trapping the poor thing in the blanket in which he was hiding from Apollo's murderous overtures, and releasing to the wild.

Go ahead. Laugh it up. Next time it could be you!