Monday, August 31, 2015


All weekend, I have had a terrible headache.  It started Friday night and has been so bad, I've barely been able to sleep.  The only time I was able to sleep was when I took the maximum dose of my medicine.

Since I started my new headache treatments in March, the headaches have come with less frequency. I think I told y'all that I'd had a chronic cluster headache that lasted from November to March.  By mid-April, the headache had stopped completely and I was down to one headache every week or so, and even those were less intense than the worst of the never-ending headache that I had been experiencing. The one I have experienced this weekend has been pretty bad and has been accompanied with nausea.

I'm pretty sure this is just stress, and hopefully it will be better today.  I'm also hoping for some news on the results of my job interview this week.  My fingers are still crossed, and I continue to pray for me to get this job.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Power of Prayer

“Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” - Matthew 21:22 

I've been asking do your prayers this week, and hopefully, by the middle or at least the end of this week, if all goes well, I will have great news to tell you.  We can never underestimate the power of prayer. When we are praying according to God's will, our prayers are unstoppable. 

Jesus made this promise: "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7).

First John 5:14–15 says, "And this is the boldness we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him."

Therefore, we should never give up or back down. We need to keep praying. That is why Jesus said, " Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7:7-8). 

Jesus is very clear that prayer is very powerful, but it's not for just when we want something for ourselves.  It can also be for guidance or wanting something for others. Often we pray because something bad has happened.  Hardships and tragedies are a constant reminder to keep connected to God through prayer, reading, and reflection. It's important to keep our hearts open so we may reach out to others who may be in that same kind of situation we found ourselves. In helping them, we provide someone in need with the remedy that will soothe their broken spirit.

To maintain God's peace, we must give up the need to be right, along with the need to control. We must humble ourselves and give it all to God, trusting that we will be shown the way to whatever it is we need to know, as well as Who is in control. God always answers our prayers, but it might just be “no” on occasion.  The most important thing though is that it is always God’s will.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Moment of Zen: You Are My Sunshine

Before my interview Thursday, I began to freak out a little, okay a lot. I knew I was prepared, but I still got incredibly nervous and on the verge of a full blown panic attack. My boyfriend was working, so I couldn't disturb him, so I texted a very good friend of mine who always seems to calm me down. When I told him I was freaking out he told me that everything would be okay and that I would do great. Then he texted me this:

You are my sunshine

My only sunshine

When I couldn't think clearly, he knew exactly how I am able to calm myself. Mama used to sing “You Are My Sunshine” to me when I was little. It has always calmed me when I have a panic attack. It's one of the few things that work. It's puts me back into perspective and allows things to slow down. So I sang:

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping
I dreamt I held you in my arms
When I awoke, dear, I was mistaken
So I hung my head, and I cried

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

I'll always love you and make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me to love another,
You'll regret it all one day

You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You make me happy when skies are grey
You never know, dear, how much I love you
Please don't take my sunshine away

Please don't take my sunshine away

Before I knew it, I had calmed down and had been able to convince myself that I was ready for this interview and that it would go great. And it did. Thank you everyone for your prayers, but it's not over yet. I still need your prayers. They won't decide until next week after the other two people are interviewed. I'm hoping that I was memorable enough that they will offer me the job. But I have to be patient and wait. So my true Moment of Zen this week was a friend reminding me: You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.

And while I could have used most any picture for today's Moment of Zen, I chose the one above. It looks kind of sunshiny.  If you don't know who the guy in the middle is (and if you don't, what rock have you been living under?), it is Pietro Boselli. Boselli has a PhD in mathematics and paid his way through graduate school by modeling. He lectures at the University of London.  He's also Italian. (swoon) I'm not a math person, so I do not understand what he actually studies. Advanced mathematics is something that is way over my head. Isn't it just unfair that someone can be that beautiful and that brilliant? He posted the above picture to Instagram which shows the math teacher/model striking a pose with Spanish model River Viiperi and Texan model Parker Gregory.

Friday, August 28, 2015

So Far, So Good

The only way I can describe yesterday's interview was that it seemed to be a complete success.  I laid on my southern charm, and I think they loved it.  This job is so far north, it's almost in Canada, but one of the interviewers was from Tennessee.  This museum has a staff of five people, if hired, I'd make the fifth, and all four people at the museum were part of the interview process.  They seemed extremely nice, and if I get this job, they will be a wonderful group to work with.

They seemed very impressed with my credentials and my attitude.  The only thing I lacked was experience with the actual software they are using with this project, but they were impressed that I had researched the software and that I had contacted a former professor who does use the software and asked for his advice.  They were also impressed that I had started a drama club at my last school and felt that it would be very beneficial since this program is still in its infancy, and I had shown that I could build a program and make it a success.  This job has nothing to do with drama, it's strictly a history job, but I liked that they recognized how other talents and experience could be very beneficial.

The bottom line is this, in my opinion, I do not think that the interview could have gone better.  I was told that they have two other candidates to interview next week, and that they hoped to bring one of us up the next week and then have the person on the job two weeks after that.  It's a short timeline, but I let them know that I am ready and willing to be there and get to work.

Please keep me in your prayers.  I keep asking God that if this job is His will, then let all go well.  Today it did go exceptionally well.  And let's hope that those other two candidates suck, lol.

Thank you all for your support.  It means the world to me.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Prepared and Ready

I'm not sure what else I can do to be prepared for this phone interview.  I've read everything I can, studied possible interview questions, and prayed.  I've done all I can, now let's hope it's enough.  I feel confident that this will go well.  If by chance I am not what they are looking for, then they do not know what they need.  I AM their perfect candidate.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting Prepared

I'm doing my best to be as prepared as possible for this phone interview.  I've read articles sent to me by a friend about how best to handle a phone interview, and I will definitely be putting them into practice.  Furthermore, this job uses a skill (oral history) that while practiced in a different capacity is one that I was well trained for in graduate school.  I did my graduate studies at a university that was one of the pioneers in oral history.  Not everyone is good at conducting interviews, but I found I had a special talent for it.  Largely because people love to talk to me.  I know how to ask the right questions, and I know how to get the information I need, sometimes without even conveying that.  In a way, it's very similar to leading a class discussion.  You have to ask open ended questions and let the students talk.  Let that discussion lead to another question, all the while keeping the person answering the questions focussed on what I need/want to know.  

I haven't had many opportunities to conduct oral histories in recent years and some of the technology has changed, so I looked into the modern equipment used in the digital age.  I found out what some of the equipment that they use is and emailed a former professor and asked his advice, since the oral history center that he is now in charge of uses the same equipment.  I've read over techniques and manuals to refresh my memory about the best strategies and practices of conducting oral histories.

I've also researched the institution where the job is, the people who work in this particular museum (LinkedIn is a wonderful tool), and I have researched the surrounding area.  I want to know as much as I possibly can about this job, and he environment there.  Of course there is still more reading and research to do today, and rest assured, I will have cheat sheets and notes in front of me when they call.    I am determined to make sure that the four people interviewing me know exactly why I am the perfect candidate for this job.

By the way, I know I have been more personal in my posts lately than I ever have in this blog.  I hope that this is ok with my readers.  I've just been so focussed lately that I've felt the need to share what I am going through, so I would love your feedback on the direction that I have taken the blog in the last few weeks.  When I find interesting books or history or news items, I will definitely be posting about them, but I hope it's ok that I've just been more focussed on me lately.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


By Helen Hunt Jackson

I do not know if, climbing some steep hill,
Through fragrant wooded pass, this glimpse I bought,
Or whether in some mid-day I was caught
To upper air, where visions of God’s will
In pictures to our quickened sense fulfill
His word. But this I saw.
                                          A path I sought
Through wall of rock. No human fingers wrought
The golden gates which opened sudden, still,
And wide. My fear was hushed by my delight.
Surpassing fair the lands; my path lay plain;
Alas, so spell-bound, feasting on the sight,
I paused, that I but reached the threshold bright,
When, swinging swift, the golden gates again
Were rocky wall, by which I wept in vain.

I used this poem "Opportunity," because I have a tremendous opportunity that presented itself yesterday. I got a call for an interview on Thursday. Because this place is so far away, they are initially doing telephone interviews. I mentioned this job before because I was excited when I applied for it. So often, when you come across a job announcement, you meet the minimum requirements but not all of the “preferred qualifications.” This job, however, I not only meet their minimum qualifications but also their preferred qualifications. I'm not familiar with the software this place is using, but I will be before Thursday. Besides, I've yet to find a computer program that I cannot master. I'm just going to spend today and tomorrow refreshing myself on some of the specifics of the job and the history that I will be expected to know.
This would be a wonderful opportunity and a place where I can be myself again, and not just the person my family expects me to be. Please pray for me. Pray this goes well, and pray that if this is what God wants for me, then it will happen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Carry the Ocean

I wrote briefly on Saturday about the book By That Sin Fell the Angels by Jamie Fessenden. My friend who suggested it then suggested another, this one was Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan. I've written about Heidi before because I've read her books Love Lessons and Fever Ptich. I'd seen Carry the Ocean before but after reading the blurb, I had decided that it didn't sound like a book I wanted to read. Here's the blurb:
Normal is just a setting on the dryer.
High school graduate Jeremey Samson is looking forward to burying his head under the covers and sleeping until it’s time to leave for college. Then a tornado named Emmet Washington enters his life. The double major in math and computer science is handsome, forward, wicked smart, interested in dating Jeremey—and he’s autistic.
But Jeremey doesn’t judge him for that. He’s too busy judging himself, as are his parents, who don’t believe in things like clinical depression. When his untreated illness reaches a critical breaking point, Emmet is the white knight who rescues him and brings him along as a roommate to The Roosevelt, a quirky new assisted living facility nearby.
As Jeremey finds his feet at The Roosevelt, Emmet slowly begins to believe he can be loved for the man he is behind the autism. But before he can trust enough to fall head over heels, he must trust his own conviction that friendship is a healing force, and love can overcome any obstacle.
Warning: Contains characters obsessed with trains and counting, positive representations of autism and mental illness, a very dark moment, and Elwood Blues.
I'm glad my friend convinced me that I should read this book. She said, “I consider it one of the best books I have read this year and hope, if you decide to give it a try, you will enjoy it too.” I value her opinion greatly, so I knew I had to give it a try. I downloaded the Kindle sample and began to read. The first thing you do is fall in love with Emmet. You can't help it.  The sample wasn't enough, I needed to read the whole book.
I also have to admit that I cried, a lot with his book. When I read Amy Lane, I always cry some, but I don't think I got through a single page of this book without a tear in my eye. I know that doesn't sound like a ringing endorsement, but I will be honest, since I lost my job, I cry very easily. My depression is harder to fight right now.  Not everyone will cry as much as I did, but it was worth it. You see, I don't have autism, major depressive disorder, or clinical anxiety, but I identified with them.  Let me break this down so that I can explain it better.
I've always felt very intelligent. Like Emmet, I learned you can't say that to other people, but you can thank them if they tell you that. I am not a genius, but I do possess above average intelligence. For example, I went to the dentist once in high school, the dental hygienist asked me how school was going, and I told her all the things that were going great and about some of my accomplishments. I was set to be valedictorian at the time (I did graduate as valedictorian). She told my mother later, “He thinks a lot of himself, doesn't he?” I was mortified when I found this out. I'd only told her what she'd asked. I honestly wasn't bragging, but she thought I was. So, since then I've learned not to tell people I'm intelligent but to let them figure it out for themselves. This makes it very hard in applying for jobs and in job interviews because even though you need to sell yourself to the interviewer, I'm always afraid that they are going to think , “He thinks a lot of himself, doesn't he?” So while not autistic, some of Ememt’s issues hit home pretty hard.
Furthermore, I don't have a major depressive disorder, but I do have depression. I take an antidepressant for it, and I know that it doesn't work 100 percent of the time. You've seen from this blog that I have dark days. For Jeremey, it makes it hard for him to get out of bed; for me, it usually manifests itself as cluster headaches, which can be just as debilitating. I've battled depression for many years, and I also understand the influence parents can have on our mental state. Jeremey also feels what others are feeling. If someone is sad, he becomes sadder. If someone is scared, he becomes more scared. He's a very empathetic character, but he sees that as a weakness. I think one of my strongest traits is that I am empathetic. I can take on the feelings and understand someone else's emotions, but I use this to try to help people.
Also, I don't have clinical anxiety, but I do have anxiety attacks. Usually they happen when I have an approaching deadline, and I feel that I'm running out of time. I have them really bad when I have to fly in an airplane, and sometimes have them in crowds. The airplane situation is dealt with easily with Xanax, which I take to ward off the panic attacks, but the other ones I can't predict until it's too late. I have coping strategies, what Emmet would call modifications, to handle my anxiety attacks. What works for me is to sing to myself, “You Are My Sunshine.” Mama used to sing this to me as a child and I find it comforting. But also concentrating on the meter of the song, I can slow things down. When I have a panic attack, my heart races and everything moves so fast and I feel completely out of control. “You Are My Sunshine” calms me down and slows down my mind.
When I'd first read the blurb for Carry the Ocean I didn't think I'd be interested in reading it. Usually, when I find a book that I love, it's because I can identify in some way with the main character. I didn't think I could do this with Emmet or Jeremey. However, here's why I think this book is so extraordinary: Heidi Cullinan has written two characters that seem so different from us, but I challenge any of you to read this book and not identify in some way with these characters. I honestly don't think you can.
I cried a lot in this book because it was powerful and emotional. I cried because I was happy or empathetic. It's hard to describe the emotions that this book evoked in me. It made me happy, it broke my heart, and it touched my soul. I think there are three lessons to learn from this book. First, don't judge a book by it’s cover (literally and metaphorically). There is so much more to this book than that blurb, just as there was so much more to Emmet and Jeremey than most people could see. Second, there is no such thing as normal. Third, while some of us merely carry buckets of water, some of us Carry the Ocean.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why Do I Let Myself Worry?

This is a post that I needed to write and contemplate. It's one I need to believe, even though it's very hard to do so right now. I feel like a complete loser as I write this, because I just received my seventh rejection letter in one week. Seven “we were very impressed with your qualifications, but we selected another candidate for this position” letters, I must be a real winner. (Sarcasm, if you couldn't guess.) I am trying to keep my faith and believe that God really will direct me, and He will provide for me. It gets tougher every day to keep believing that something good will come out of all of this.
I've spent an awful lot of time in my life worrying. I've worried about grades in school, job interviews or lack thereof, approaching deadlines, and many, many other things. I've worried about bills and expenses, rising gas prices, insurance costs, and what I did to end up in this situation. Lately, I have worried most about what I will do next, where will I go from here, and whether or not anyone will ever want to hire me.
Over the span of my lifetime, worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that I'll never get back. I've decided I need to quit worrying and look to the future but it's very hard when the future looks so bleak and uncertain. I'm not convinced that I can give up my worrying, it's a part of who I am, because if I'm not worrying about myself, I'm worrying about others. I found these four biblical reasons not to worry, and I'm hoping they will help me deal with my current situation better and maybe encourage someone who's in a similar position
1. Jesus explicitly tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that worrying accomplishes absolutely nothing. Consider Matthew 6:25-34:
"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
I know Jesus is telling us what is best, and I also realize that worrying is a waste of time. But, how do you actually stop worrying? I don't have an answer. I can't bring myself to act happy all the time without a care in the world, because I do worry. I know it is a waste of energy, but I cannot seem to stop worrying. If I am not worried about my own life and future, I am worried about my friends and family.
2. Solomon tells us in Proverbs that worrying is not good for us.Worrying is destructive to us in many ways. It becomes a mental burden that can even cause us to grow physically sick. Consider Proverbs 12:25:
Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad.
I know the medical implications of worry and stress. It is a major cause of my headaches. One of the things that my medicine for my headache does is that it allows me to sleep and to take my mind off my worries. I also know that it causes weight gain. I know that I'm a stress eater. I know that I want to sit down and drink a whole bottle of wine in hopes of forgetting my troubles for just a little while. (I don't because even one glass of wine can trigger one of my headaches.) I know that I am not the only person who turns to destructive behavior when I am stressed, but that's just it, it's destructive behavior, and we have to save ourselves from it.
3. Paul told the Philippians that worrying is the opposite of trusting God. The energy that we spend worrying can be put to much better use in prayer. Here's a little formula that I've been told to remember: Worry replaced by Prayer equals Trust. Consider Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I have certainly prayed plenty, and many people have been praying for me, but maybe I am not praying enough. In times past, when I didn't understand something, I prayed and meditated on the answer. I did this when I didn't understand my sexuality. I'd always been taught that being gay was evil, but I was not attracted to women. I was attracted to guys. I knew I wouldn't be happy alone, and I knew I'd make a woman miserable. So I prayed, and I meditated. And God delivered his answer. I am gay, and God still loves me and wants me to be happy. I just need to do that again, and realize that God does love me, He will take care of me, the right opportunity will come along, and He wants me to be happy. I just need faith.
4. Peter wrote that worrying puts our focus in the wrong direction. We are told that when we keep our eyes focused on God, we remember his love for us and we realize we truly have nothing to worry about. Consider 1 Peter 5:6-7:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.
I know that God has a wonderful plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes taking care of us. Even in the difficult times, when it seems like God doesn't care, we can put our trust in the Lord and focus on his love for us, because that never wavers. God will take care of our every need, but when I read these passages, I feel guilty. I know I should put more of my faith in God. I honestly don't doubt God, and I trust Him completely, but each time I get a rejection about a job offer, especially one that I know I was well-qualified for and would have done an excellent job for the organization, I begin to doubt myself.
I don't know if I've said this on this blog before, but my current boss at the job where I volunteer, told me that when she was looking for a job that she prayed to God, “LORD, please let me get offered the job that is right for me. I need to trust in You, and Your guidance, because You know I get confused when there are choices.” So I'm putting my faith in the idea that God wants me to have patience and wait for the right one. I hope He just doesn't want me to get confused. Besides, He is providing. I finally started getting unemployment benefits, and it was a much easier process this time around. I have the love and support of my friends and family and that means the world to me, and I know I have the love and support of God. In the song “Crazy,” Patsy Cline sang, “Worry, why do I let myself worry? Wondering what in the world did I do?” And she's right (or Willie Nelson was right since he wrote the song), if I keep worrying and not putting my faith in God, then it will drive me crazy.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Moment of Zen: A Good Book

About 4 p.m. yesterday, I got an email from a friend of mine.  She suggested that I check out a book review she had just read.  She said that she thought I might be interested in the book.  I clicked on the link, and it was a review for Jamie Fessenden's By That Sin Fell the Angels.  Once I read the review, I knew it was a book I wanted to read (if you read the review, you'll see why she thought of me).  The book is available on Kindle so I downloaded the sample to see if I'd really like it or not.  By the time I finished the sample, I wanted more, so I got the whole book.  I'm a slow reader so it usually takes me a while to read a book, but this one I sat down and read from start to finish with barely a break.  I just needed to know how it ended, and I finished just before midnight.  I've only ever done that with one book before, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  By That Sin Fell the Angels was really that good. I'm sorry it ended.  I've never read a book by Fessenden, but I know I'll be checking out more of his books.

Friday, August 21, 2015


For more than 20 years, conservative Christians have been building the case that laws protecting gay people and legalizing same-sex marriage place an unconstitutional burden on the rights of religious people who believe homosexuality is a sin. The biggest problem with this argument is that they used it to justify slavery.  They used it to justify segregation.  They used it to justify bans on interracial marriage.  They used it against teaching evolution in schools.  They've used it over and over again to use the Bible to back up bigotry and ignorance.  I don't understand the Jesus that they claim to follow.  He's not the Jesus in my Bible, and if they'd look, he's not the Jesus in theirs either.

Thankfully, the courts appear unconflicted on this issue. Last week, conservative Christians suffered two more defeats in a nearly unbroken string of legal losses over the last decade.

First came the ruling of Judge David L. Bunning of the U.S. District Court for Eastern Kentucky, who ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis to issue state marriage licenses to all qualified couples who seek them. Davis is “certainly free to disagree with the Court’s decision, as many Americans likely do,” Bunning wrote, referring to the Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage. “But that does not excuse her from complying with it.”

Then, in Colorado, the Court of Appeals weighed in on a case that has been brewing since 2012, when David Mullins, Charlie Craig, and Craig’s mother visited a bakery near their home and tried to buy a cake for a reception celebrating the couple’s upcoming marriage in Massachusetts. (At the time, Colorado did not recognize same-sex marriages.) Jack Phillips, the evangelical owner of the Masterpiece Cakeshop — who also won’t bake Halloween cookies or erotic pastries — told the couple he does not create wedding cakes for same-sex weddings because of his religious beliefs.

Phillips' legal team, the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian advocacy group based in Arizona, argued that Phillips' decision to turn down the couple was protected by the First Amendment. But the Colorado Court of Appeals disagreed. The bakery, like Kim Davis, “remains free to continue espousing its religious beliefs, including its opposition to same-sex marriage,” the court explained in its ruling last Thursday. However, if Phillips wishes to run the bakery as a public business, Colorado’s anti-discrimination law “prohibits it from picking and choosing customers based on their sexual orientation.”

Before I go any further, let me just say that any public business that refuses to serve someone because of their own bigotry (it is not “religious freedom”), then they should have their business license revoked.  Furthermore, and I can't say this strongly enough, I DO NOT WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH BIGOTS!!!  I refuse to give my business to anyone who I know supports anti-gay organizations or spew their own hatred.  It's why I refuse to watch A&E television because they continue to show Duck Dynasty.  It is why I refuse to patronize Chik-fil-A.  Furthermore, it is why I will not patronize any business in an Alabama county whose probate judge refuses to issue marriage licenses.

Here's where I see a problem.  I can't do this alone.  One person boycotting won't do it.  But once again, Alabama is being forgotten.  The bakery case has been going on for some time, so I'm not going to address that further, but the news media is latching on to this one Kentucky clerk’s refusal to issue marriage licenses when there are FOURTEEN probate judges in Alabama refusing to issue marriage licenses.  And if you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know the reason for this is a loophole in the Alabama Constitution that is a mistake.  It says probate judges “may” issue marriage licenses, when it should have read “shall.”  Common law and precedent should overrule where probate judges who are latching on to this one word: MAY.  Never in the one hundred and fourteen years of the Alabama Constitution has any probate judge in Alabama deemed fit to use this loophole.  Not even when interracial marriage became legal did they use it, and this is Alabama we are talking about.  Alabama used other tactics to prevent interracial marriage, which President Nixon finally forced them to comply.

I had a conversation yesterday with the Campaign for Southern Equality, a small but diligent organization fighting for LGBT equality in the South.  They contacted me since I had signed a petition for them earlier this year and asked if I would discuss with them the political climate of Alabama.  I had a wonderful talk with Lindsey Simerly of CSE and have an even greater respect for their diligence than before, and I already respected them a lot.  They are concerned about Alabama’s probate judges, and they want to help force them to comply.  I personally believe that now is the time to push the fact that up to  fourteen probate judges are not doing their job.  I tried to check on one of the counties for them and see if they were issuing marriage licenses, but was unable to get a clear answer.  What I did find out though is that their website says that the probate judges office is responsible for marriage licenses.  If it is their responsibility then it sounds like an obligation that they are admitting to and not one that they “may” do or “may not” do.  They even list the fees for performing weddings.

I think the climate in Alabama may be right, but for how long, I don't know.  Right now, the Governor is using language that can be used to either get him to force the judges to comply or show what a complete hypocrite he actually is.  Let me explain why I say this.  The Alabama Legislature has one constitutional duty, pass a budget.  They failed to do so in the regular session, and they failed to do so in the special session.  Governor Bentley has stated that, "If you stand up and lead, people will vote for you. If you don't do that, then you might get beat. And...the people who are not willing to do what is needed for the people of this state need to get beat.". Bentley is basically saying that the legislature has a job that they aren't doing, and they need to be voted out.  The same is true of these fourteen probate judges, they have a job that they aren't doing.  If Bentley wants to allow probate judges not to do their job, then how can he turn around and criticize the legislature for not doing theirs, and vice versa.  Same for the people of Alabama.  They can't grumble about the legislature not doing their one job, yet allow probate judges to refuse to do theirs.

The point is: one clerk in Kentucky, fourteen judges in Alabama.  Tell me where the real problem is. It's in Alabama, not with some pissant clerk in Kentucky who is on a power trip.  It's going to take organization to put Alabama probate judges in their place.  Pike County is one of the most vocal about not allowing marriage licenses because the probate judge doesn't want to issue same sex marriage licenses.  Troy University is one of Alabama’s major universities. Troy is a university of nearly 20,000 students and 700 faculty and staff.  Not to mention that the University serves the educational needs of students in four Alabama campuses, sixty teaching sites in 17 U.S. States and 11 countries. Troy University's graduates number more than 100,000 alumni representing all 50 states and from numerous foreign countries. Troy University is known as Alabama's International University for its extensive international program in attracting foreign students from around the world.  What's it going to look like when foreign students find out their university is in such a hostile environment.  Troy University should be putting major pressure on the probate judge and on the county's economy.  They have the resources to do it.  But they haven't said a word as far as I know.

We can't let these fourteen judges get away with this bigotry.

PS I am feeling better and more hopeful.  Thank you for all your love and support.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

See Previous Post

I didn't feel like writing anything today.  Maybe this afternoon or tomorrow, I'll put an update. Waking up because of an excruciating headache at 5 am doesn't help much either, and I'd just told someone the other day that with my new headache treatment regimen, I had not been being woken by headaches.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

I Try, But Sometimes I Fail

I try so hard to remain upbeat and to just believe that God will point me in the right direction.  He says that He will not forsake us if we do not forsake Him, but it is really hard at times to believe that.  As I write this, it is Wednesday afternoon.  The sky is dark with storm clouds, the rain is beating down, and there is thunder and lightening all around.  Not the best thing for keeping a person's spirits up, even though I've always loved the rain and stormy weather.  It's just not lifting my spirits.  I should be happy that my job interview seemed to go well, but instead I brooded all night last night with worry.  I finally fell asleep sometime around 4 a.m.  I made myself get out of bed at 10:30, but I didn't want to.  I did though and submitted three more job applications.  However, by the afternoon I was wiped.

The stress and worry is piling up on me.  What am I going to do financially if I can't find a job?  Why can't people see that I'd be a wonderful asset to their organization?  Why can't I find the joy in the little things that should make me happy?  I hate my life, I hate my fucking situation, and I just want to be far, far away from this miserable place.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.  Maybe something good will finally happen.  Maybe I will actually even get some encouraging news this afternoon.  Maybe this, maybe that.  It all seems to be maybes, and I don't handle uncertainties well.  To be completely honest, I'm scared.  I'm doing everything I know how to do but nothing seems to work.  People have told me over and over that things will eventually work out, but it's times like this that I find that hard to believe.  This up and down roller coaster of emotions is killing me, and I don't know what to do, except just curl up in bed and cry.  Which is what I'm going to do right now.  Maybe listening to the rain will help smooth me, or maybe I'll fall asleep and wake up feeling more hopeful.

The Interview

I had my interview yesterday.  It's an entry level position but everyone has to start somewhere.  I know she believed I was over-qualified, but the interview went exceptionally well.  She was very nice, and I'm pretty sure she thought the same of me.  I know I would enjoy working with her though I know that being director at this place is not her primary job.  Her main position is as the outreach director for a large civil rights organization/legal institution that built and administers this museum.* overall, I think the interview went really well, and I was told that I would hear from them very soon.  I just hope it pays somewhere near what I was making as a teacher (don't forget I was paid very poorly as a private school teacher, roughly 50% of the salary of a public school teacher).  Whether I get this job or not, I believe in what my current supervisor at my volunteer job told me to pray for: "God please let me be offered the job that is right for me.  I get confused when there are choices."  I never did do well on multiple choice tests.

One of the things that really intrigued me about this interview was that she wanted to discuss my experience with conducting oral histories.  I was glad she did that for two reasons.  One, it showed that the oral history experience I have is something that stand out on my resume.  This is important because I recently applied for a job that would primarily deal with oral histories.  It's a job that I'd really like to have in a part of the country that id love to live in.  The other thing is that, whether I get this job or not, it gave me some great experience and practice discussing my background in oral history.  As RB commented on Monday's post, "Every time you interview it's good practice and you usually learn something. The more you interview, the better you become at it. So not a waste of time."

In other developments, I was contacted by the the Campaign for Southern Equality because I had signed a petition earlier this year about marriage equality in Alabama.  Fourteen of Alabama's sixty-seven counties are not issuing marriage licenses to anyone because "they feel issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates their religious beliefs."  My address made it appear that I lived in one of those counties, though I actually live a few miles from the county line in the neighboring county.** I explained this to her and gave her some insight into the county. Anyway, she now want to discuss things over the phone with me tomorrow.  I'm not sure how much help I can be, but I am happy to be able to offer some assistance.  Sadly, if they want to call to ask me for a donation, they are out of luck until I find a good paying job.

*To give just a hint at what organization I applied to work with, it just lost one of their founders over the weekend.  His death was a great loss to civil rights movements.

**In my part of rural Alabama, the two nearest town refused to serve the rural mail routes where I live (this was many years before I was born), even though one of those routes ends two houses down from me.  So another rural post office offered mail service but it was located in another county.  At the time they only had one rural route all in the county where the post office existed.  They expanded to have a second rural route in the neighboring county to give people that did not have rural mail access, mail service.  Thus before they named our roads and gave us street numbers to simplify the rural 911 service, my address began with Route 2, Box ###.  My great-grandmother is actually the one that convinced this small rural post office to bring mail service to our area.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Poetic Lesson: The Villanelle

The House on the Hill
By Edwin Arlington Robinson
They are all gone away,
The House is shut and still,
There is nothing more to say.
Through broken walls and gray
The winds blow bleak and shrill:
They are all gone away.
Nor is there one to-day
To speak them good or ill:
There is nothing more to say.
Why is it then we stray
Around the sunken sill?
They are all gone away,
And our poor fancy-play
For them is wasted skill:
There is nothing more to say.
There is ruin and decay
In the House on the Hill:
They are all gone away,
There is nothing more to say.
Edwin Arlington Robinson is one of my favorite American poets (see this post from several years ago). One of the things I will truly miss about teaching at my former job is having the opportunity to teach American literature. Sometimes, I wish I had gotten a master's in American literature or literary history. If I had unlimited resources, I'd get a degree in American lit, American Art history, museum studies and probably one in religious studies, but that's neither here nor there.
Now for the lesson on this poem. It is a poetic form of fixed verse known as the villanelle. A villanelle (also known as villanesque) is a nineteen-line poetic form consisting of five tercets (three line stanzas) followed by a quatrain (a four line stanza). There are two refrains and two repeating rhymes, with the first and third line of the first tercet repeated alternately until the last stanza, which includes both repeated lines. The word derives from Latin, then Italian, and is related to the initial subject of the form being the pastoral.
The rhyme-and-refrain pattern of the villanelle can be schematized as A1bA2 abA1 abA2 abA1 abA2 abA1A2 where letters ("a" and "b") indicate the two rhyme sounds, upper case indicates a refrain ("A"), and numerals (1 and 2) indicate Refrain 1 and Refrain 2. The pattern is shown as an example in the poem "Do not go gentle into that good night" by Dylan Thomas, which is the poem most often used as an example of a villanelle:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 2 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 4 (a)
Line 5 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 7 (a)
Line 8 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 10 (a)
Line 11 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Line 13 (a)
Line 14 (b)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Line 16 (a)
Line 17 (b)
Refrain 1 (A1)
Refrain 2 (A2)
Unlike many fixed verse poetic forms, the villanelle has no established meter, although most 19th-century villanelles have used trimeter or tetrameter and most 20th-century villanelles have used pentameter. Slight alteration of the refrain line is permissible.
The form started as a simple ballad-like song with no fixed form; this fixed quality would only come much later, from the poem "Villanelle (J'ay perdu ma Tourterelle)" (1606) by Jean Passerat. From this point, its evolution into the "fixed form" used in the present day is debated. Despite its French origins, the majority of villanelles have been written in English, a trend which began in the late nineteenth century. The villanelle has been noted as a form that frequently treats the subject of obsessions, and one which appeals to outsiders; its defining feature of repetition prevents it from having a conventional tone.
In the villanelle’s repetition of lines, the form is often used, and properly used, to deal with one or another degree of obsession, such as in Sylvia Plath's "Mad Girl's Love Song" amongst other examples. Repetition allows the possibility for the form to evoke, through the relationship between the repeated lines, a feeling of dislocation and is what some have termed a paradigm for schizophrenia. This repetition of lines has been considered to prevent villanelles from possessing a conventional tone and that instead they are closer in form to a song or lyric poetry. Stephen Fry says that the villanelle "is a form that seems to appeal to outsiders, or those who might have cause to consider themselves as such", having a "playful artifice" which suits "rueful, ironic reiteration of pain or fatalism.” In spite of this, the villanelle has also often been used for light verse, as for instance Louis Untermeyer's "Lugubrious Villanelle of Platitudes” or the song by They Might Be Giants called “Hate the Villanelle.”
On the relationship between form and content, Anne Ridler noted in an introduction to her own poem "Villanelle for the Middle of the Way" a point made by T. S. Eliot, that "to use very strict form is a help, because you concentrate on the technical difficulties of mastering the form, and allow the content of the poem a more unconscious and freer release," which sounds so very Post Modern. In an introduction to his own take on the form entitled "Missing Dates,” William Empson suggested that while the villanelle is a "very rigid form,” W. H. Auden—in his long poem “The Sea and the Mirror”—had nonetheless "made it sound absolutely natural like the innocent girl talking.”
As an English teacher colleague once told me, fixed verse poems are fascinating because you have to have a true talent to make a poem not only conform to fixed verse rules, but to at at the same time create a poem that has meaning. Eliot might have believed free verse allowed for the unconscious to take over as the poet concentrates on form, but a poet who truly uses fixed verse must be able to master the language and the art.  Of the fixed verse forms, I think maybe the villanelle might be the easiest only because it does not follow a specific meter, which is a lesson for another week.

Monday, August 17, 2015


Sometimes, there just isn't much to say.  Today is one of those days.  Part of the reason is because I had a headache all day yesterday, and it just hurt to think.  As I said in my post Saturday, I did not get the job that I'd gone in for a second interview for on Friday.  It was not particularly a job I wanted, but it would have been a job that would have paid benefits.  Turns out that one of the positions I'd interviewed for the week before had actually been hired before interviews were conducted.  I'm pretty sure that's how Friday's interview was also. The whole process was for show, and it pisses me off that my time was wasted.  Sadly, that's how some things work.  So I'm even more thankful that I didn't get the job after the massive four hours wasted of my time on Friday.  Yes, I did say four hours for this second "interview."  It's a long story and one that pisses me off too much to retell.

I'd much prefer the job I am interviewing for tomorrow though.  I have no idea what it pays, though because it is full-time with a fairly significant organization, I am assuming that it will have benefits.  I do know what it will have to pay for me to be able to accept the job, but I will have to wait and see how the interview goes.  The job would basically be to do what I'm currently doing in my volunteer job, but I'd be getting paid for it.

Here's a quote that a friend of mine sent me.  It's one I'm trying to remember:

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

So that's about it for now.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Being and Doing

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” - Matthew 7:13-14
I've always loved this passage of the Bible from the Sermon on the Mount. Just before it, we have the Golden Rule, “"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). I've always believed that the a Golden Rule is the basic belief of Christianity summed up in one verse, but the verses that follow it explains what it's like to be a Christian. We have two paths we can follow in life, the popular path, which is through the wide gate, or the less popular path, which is through the narrow gate.
Anyone who has ever been a social outcast, those of us who walk to the beat of our own drum, we are going through the narrow gate. Gay Christians always choose the narrow gate. We are usually not only unpopular with other Christians but also unpopular in the LGBT community. For many people who claim to be Christians, they take the easier path and condemn homosexuality but ignore many of the passages surrounding the clobber passages they throw at us. Also, many in the LGBT community turn away from God. They see God as allowing their persecution by people,who claim to follow Him. Neither is anymore right or wrong than the other, but both are equally wrong. It puts gay Christians in a very unpopular position, and one that causes many struggles.
While we may not be accepted easily by either group, we must continue our faith. Jesus tells us that as Christians we cannot look for shortcuts to God. He tells us that the market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time, but we can't fall for that easy way out, even though crowds of people do. We cannot change our sexual orientation as Christians claim we can, nor can we turn away from God as many in the LGBT community do. The way to a fulfilled life and to God is vigorous and requires total attention.
So many people fall under the spell of religious leaders who preach hate, but we must be wary of these false preachers who smile a lot, dripping with practiced sincerity. Chances are they are out to rip you off some way or other. Don’t be impressed with charisma; look for character. Who preachers are is the main thing, not what they say. A genuine leader will never exploit your emotions or your pocketbook. They will promise salvation if you follow their teachings but it is their teachings, not those of God.
To give an example of this, the increasingly predictable Pat Robertson recently said that he has no time for Christians who are accepting of the LGBT community. The right-wing televangelist, who has been outspoken in regard to his deep opposition to LGBT rights, warned a "700 Club" viewer to "stay far away" from a church with an openly gay pastor. He followed this with his version of quotes from the Bible. Earlier this year, he told a concerned mother to "pray that God will straighten out" her teenage lesbian daughter, who had recently come out of the closet. Instead of preaching love and inclusiveness, Robertson takes the path of the wide gate and preaches fear and hatred.
We can't just say “Lord, Lord” and expect that we can look pious and then it will be seen as thus, but we must practice the life Jesus spelled out for us. What is required is serious obedience to God. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says:
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'” 
Just because someone speaks the Word of God does not mean he follows the Word of God. What you speak must be on a good foundation, something preachers like Robertson lack. The Words of God are foundational words, words to build our life on. If we work these words into our life, then we build upon a firm foundation and it will withstand the pressures from the outside world. But for those who just use His Words in Bible studies and don’t work them into their life, you are like the man who built his house on the sandy beach, then when a storm rolled in and the waves came up, it collapsed like a house of cards. Robertson and those like him build their ministries on the poor foundation of fear and hatred.
I have always followed my own path, and I have usually been excluded from the popular crowd. Instead of partying in high school and college, I studied and made good grades. It allowed me to get a fantastic education. Grant it, I'm currently without a job, but that is a temporary setback. When we are on the narrow path, sometimes it takes us a while to get through the more narrow gates, but we will and we will be better for it in the end. Good things will happen in my life if I just persevere, and as a Christian, good thing will happen in the next life because I kept the faith, followed God’s Word, and didn't take the wide and popular path.