Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York, New York

I usually do not write about political events here, but last night's vote to legalize same sex marriage in New York transcends mere politics. On Andrew Sullivan's emotional live-blog of the vote, he says that “what equality really meant [was] the right to marry.” The vote wasn't about petty politics but about deeper values: equality and dignity.

The inclusion of equality is obvious; the state privileged heterosexual relationships over homosexual relationships. Now the law treats both relationships equally so heterosexuals and homosexuals are equal under the law. However, legal equality is intrinsically tied to dignity.

Dignity is derived from Latin (dignitas) through French. In everyday life, it means respect and status. This is what this vote was about, and why it was so important. In New York, along with Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Iowa, gay couples are now afforded the same respect and status as their heterosexual peers. The state and, by extension, the public, views them as full citizens, with all the rights and privileges afforded by such citizenship.

Gov. Cuomo deserves a huge amount of credit for his leadership. During a speech to state Republicans, he supposedly said (reported from someone who heard the speech), Their love is worth the same as your love. Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

This is about equality. This is about dignity. This is about gays being accepted by their fellow citizens and by their government as complete people, worthy of respect and status. This is about their love being seen as true, their relationships as full and rich.

Now, at least in six states, this is true.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


This poem, which you can find under the poetry tab at the top of the page, began where all great poems begin: Wikipedia. Sara and I had spent the morning, as we usually do, talking about anything that pops into our heads. This particular morning, she referenced folic acid deficiencies in passing. Later that day, I had a few free minutes and decided to look into its specific effects.

Some lines of what later became “Parokhet” came from this research. The lines were:

“Folic acid

too little
and we die of rot

too much
and we burn”

They were cut in the second draft because they are awful. However, they led to more interesting places, specifically the section about our in utero heroine.

I couldn't think of a way to start the poem, though. It seemed a bit abrupt to start in media res with the scene about the child, God, and Devil. There had to be a decent beginning, a frame for the trinity.

As the opening lines implies, it started with the sky. Thunder tore me from sleep and I lay awake while a storm wrapped around Sara's small house. It was dark, the profound dark that comes when electricity leaves. It was then, while a storm cried its first, angry breaths, that I realized what the poem was really about.

Sidenote: If you are interested in some of the references in the poem, a good place to start is “The Book of Nightmares” by Galway Kinnell, specifically the poem “Little Sleep's-Head Sprouting Hair in the Moonlight”. You can find it online here.

Waiting Redux

There is an answer, of sorts: wait-listed. This amounts to rejection, although with the usual “it's not you, it's me!” appended. This is not untrue; the economy has many victims and the arts is among them. Several prominent programs severely cut funding and, in some cases, acceptances. A few suspended their programs for a year, letting the fields lie fallow and hoping for better weather.

I was hurt at first. Well, that's not quite true. I was hurt for a while (thus the delay in posts). If there is a graceful way to handle rejection, I have not mastered it.

For the first few days after receiving the dreaded small envelope, I sulked while insisting to everyone who would listen that I was definitely not sulking. Sara bought me peanut butter M&Ms and patiently listened to my non-complaining complaints. Then, I went through a brief bout of dreams in which the New School took me from the wait list, offered me a scholarship, and bought me a brontosaurus to ride to class.

Unfortunately, none of those dreams came true.

My nascent adult instincts intervened a few weeks ago and shook me from my malaise. I accepted a full-time position with my employer and made plans for the upcoming year. If waiting will happen, then it will happen on my terms.

So far, I have submitted a poem to a literary magazine and have been writing more frequently than usual. It is a good start. This summer, there will be no harvest. There will be the hard work of tilling fields that will only yield when the work is done.

I will post a version of the poem, “Parokhet,” tomorrow. Expect to see more work in the near future.