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Fourth list of ten: Thanks to those who got out the vote

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part four in a ten-part series.

In what I hope will be one of the last direct references to the virtual roller derby that was the Weblog Awards, below are, near as I can figure,

Ten contingents to whom I owe thanks for helping LesbianDad become the little hairy-legged blog that could.

Many in these contingents are already among the herds upon herds of old, established readers who comb the site daily for life-sustaining content! content! content! But a good smattering looked in for the first time this past week. Howdy!

1. Personal family and friendship networks; also their friends, and their friends, and their friends. Some are Very Important People &/or veteran organizers, with bodacious email lists and much enthusiasm for supporting a friend and a worthy cause.

2. The very large, very active community of online lesbian family bloggers & readers thereof, primarily connected to one another via Mombian and Also their friends, and their friends, and their friends. This bunch of folks has a very powerful motivation to increase awareness and understanding about lesbian families, believe strongly in the benefits of some of that work happening online, and therefore would have been immensely motivated to vote daily and to continue to tell their friends to do so.

3. Hundreds of Northern California LGBT families, via the Our Family Coalition email list. Also their friends, and their friends, and their friends. For motivation see rationale #2 above.

3a. [Later note!] The six-hundred-plus subscribers to the Yahoo! group of which I’m a member, made up of “professional women writers from around the world” who “discuss the vocation and the craft.”

4. Untold quantities of San Francisco Bay Area lesbians on a legendary regional email list serve. For motivation see rationale #2 above.

5. Sundry Democratic Underground readers, via a note there by an Our Family Coalition member. For motivation see some of rationale #2 above; add to this also general-purpose hetero ally ire at homophobic hate speech from some quarters of the competition.

6. The mighty Unitarian Universalists and their vast national email network. Or at least the mighty emailing fingers of the Northern California and Michigan people. I spoke at a service at the Oakland UU once in June, and have friends who are very active in the congregation. Many (a) read this blog religiously (pun intended, I suppose), happily supportive of its essential message, and some also (b) got hecka steamed over the homophobic hate speech.

7. One or two actual random people who might have simply run across the blog for the first time when seeing it listed as a finalist, and who voted for it for any number of reasons. (e.g., Thought it was actually about Russian trends after misreading the title as “Caspian Fad.”)

8. One little dickens who figured out some way to scam the Diebolds at Weblog Awards Central, evidently to the tune of about a hundred votes, the sneak*. Except they got sucked back up into the ether where they came from by the Weblog Awards Quality Assurance vacuum. Which is exactly where they belong. *[Later note, after netting some insider info from Weblog Awards central: There were three sneaks! From three different parts of the country (none local)! To the tune of hundreds of votes! Yow! Fortunately the WAQA vacuum is powerful!]

9. My doctor and the intern who was with him when I got a check up last week. Well, I don’t really know for sure whether my doc voted. I just asked him and he said he would, and he’s such a nice, friendly man. Don’t know about the intern, though. I kinda think he was just kissing up to me to look good in front of the doctor.

10. A handful of other bloggers who recommended folks vote for LD, like The Other Mother, Mombian, Looky, Daddy, politickybitch, TiFaux, the buddha is my dj, A Life Less Convenient and even (what a prince), on the last day, thinking it was a squeaker between this and another blog, fellow “Best New Blog” category finalist Konagod. The Five-Forty ought to snag some kind of commendation for “Best Sense of Humor” or “Best Sport.” Plus while we’re at it there was this nice gal on MySpace. Oh! And (as I later discover), folks at Daily Kos.

Thank you all. Except you, #8, you naughty cheaters.

By the way, not a factor: The Lesbian Mafia. There is none; never has been. A vicious rumor. If there were a Lesbian Mafia you know they’d be the first I’d have called, and the one guy that seems to be running this whole operation at Weblog Awards Central would still be struggling right now, wrists tied behind his back in a broom closet somewhere, duck tape over his mouth, an iPod plugged into his ears with Indigo Girls on an endless loop.

Also not a factor: My dad. Not that he didn’t try. But he’s 85 years old for cryin’ out loud. He is still upset by the fact that you can’t get a phone to work by simply picking it up when it rings and setting it down on the receiver when you’re done. (So am I.) But it took me over 20 minutes to talk him through voting just once in the computer room at his retirement home. (“Okay, now it says Google again in big letters” etc.).

Another night he tried again on his own, and left a phone message: “Um…. honey… Trying to vote here…. “ His voice trails off. Then he’s back on again. “Oh! There’s the baby!”, referring to the image at the top o’ the blog header. That came out in the delivery style of the old Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon (“Heeeere’s Johnny!”) Then he fell quiet again, there was some rustling, a voice in the distance. “Um… okay. Ooops. I’ll call you back.”

Thanks for everything, though, Pops. It’s not the quantity of votes that count; it’s the quality.

[Fifth list of ten: How to build a better weblog award competition]

Comments { 9 }

Third list of ten: Crisis/grief support

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part three in a ten-part series.

As regular readers of this assemblage of lesbo bon mots will recall, my parenthood is markedly influenced by loss. My inaugural post introduced this theme; I named one of my exceedingly obscure tags “Seraphim/dakini” to note the recurring presence of these spirits in my life and the life of my emerging parenthood; and my gratitude for pretty much everything (yes, everything!) stems directly from knowing too well what I have to lose.

Since a friend just recently found herself in the position of wanting to support someone close to her who’d lost her spouse, and another is currently a pillar to a friend in the latter stages of a terminal illness, I am freshly reminded of the relevance. So I take a deep breath and offer up

Ten helpful things that people can do or say in times of extreme crisis or grief

1. Bring food, without asking. Leave it at the door with a note, if you don’t want to disturb. And bring food that can keep (frozen stuff that can be re-heated can be as good as a warm dish, since they’re not obligated to have an appetite right then and there).

2. Bring food in containers that DON’T NEED TO BE RETURNED. Can’t stress that enough. Otherwise the house will become a veritable Amway Depot of tupperware, pots, etc., each of which represents enormous generosity (which is good) but each of which needs to be returned. Or even stored somewhere. (Which is yet one more stressor or problem to solve.)

3. Step up, or if you can’t, find someone who can step up and organize other people’s generosity on behalf of those you’re supporting. Oddly, as everyone who’s lived through (or, bless you, are currently living through) a huge family crisis will know, a landslide of generosity, while an enormous boon, still needs to be fielded. And if you’re working on trying to save someone’s life, or trying to make out the smokey remains of a world that they just left, figuring out whether or not you need another plate of lasagne can often put you over the edge. Someone else who loves and knows you and your home can and should field the calls on the lasagne for you.

4. Employ the internet to aid in the support. You can find pre-fab sites that enable families to have an online “guestbook” of words of support; more and more, simply starting a family blog can do the trick, especially if its design enables a user’s including additional pages, such as privacy-protected phone lists, calendars to organize who’s bringing what food when, etc.

5. Support the supporters. In other words, look carefully at the sphere of people who are affected by the crisis or loss, identify those who are doing the most work in supporting the key folks, and then support them. If you don’t feel close enough to the affected people, but want to help, rest assured that the helpers are spreading themselves as thin as they can and could use someone to buy them groceries, walk their dog, etc.

6. Unless they’ve asked for no phone calls, call. Leave sweet, short messages; just say you’re thinking of them. You could certainly ask whether they need anything, but that’s almost a formality. It’s the work of loved ones around those in crisis or grief to work really hard to try to figure out those needs. Unless they have superhuman powers, folks in crisis or extreme grief are unlikely to (a) be able to articulate just exactly what they need, and/or (b) be able to return your call for hours, days, weeks, months, maybe years. Take no offense, of course, but also by all means DO THE WORK OF GETTING BACK IN TOUCH WITH THEM, consistently. Even if they don’t have the energy to call back, they still benefit from the reminders of your concern. And when they are up to answering the phone, they will need your love.

7. Attend to the little creatures who may be forgotten or under-tended in the wake of the crisis or grief. Meaning kids, pets, even plants. Anyone who has lived through (or, bless you, is living through) crisis or extreme grief will know that kids show signs of stress and grief differently — differently than adults, and also differently than one another (see some of the links at the bottom of this post for more on this). But don’t think that because they aren’t crying, or talking about their feelings, they don’t feel the distress around them, and/or aren’t in distress themselves. So volunteer to be with them, restore their daily routine, etc.

8. Pay extremely close attention, however, to the changing emotional needs of the folks you are trying to help. These needs can be logical or illogical; predictable or unpredictable. It matters not. Until their world begins to rotate on its axis in the proper direction (and during crisis and in extreme grief it most certainy does not), it is not anyone else’s place to quibble over how to help them. So for example, if taking one of their kids out of the house for an afternoon at Chuck E Cheese’s seems like a good idea to you, and even to the kid, but it destabilizes the parents who need to have all their chicks counted and in the nest, try to think of some way to help divert the kids at the house.

9. When you’re far away and can only send your goodwill in a note or a gift, don’t worry about what to say. Really. Telling them the simplest truth is good enough: You are so sorry. You want to help in any way you can. You will be in touch. Many people may become quite upset if you say “I know just what you’re feeling” unless it’s really, truly, the case. Grief over loss is so, so idiosyncratic. Siblings, probably even identical twins feel differently over the same loss. No loss is the same. Your efforts to try to understand how they feel, and provide love, are good enough.

10. Be patient; indicate that patience to them. Help them to know that months and years from now, you will still be there. The worst thing in the world for a person to hear, when they’re struggling in the wake of a crisis and paddling across an ocean of grief, is “You should be feeling better by now!” As utterly obvious as that might seem to be, bizarrely, too many people hear that message. Either directly or by implication. They’ll be done grieving when they’re done. Meanwhile, help them find ways to live with their phantom limbs; sit with them; listen to their stories; help them feel fine about crying all they need to — if they’re the crying type (and help them feel fine about not crying, if they’re not). Hand them a hanky. Bring them water so they don’t dehydrate. Take a deep breath.

Here are some further resources I’ve found helpful:

The Dougy Center for Grieving Children and Families
Compassionate Friends
Growth House

[Fourth list of ten: Thanks to those who got out the vote]

Comments { 10 }

Second List of Ten: First words

one hundred stones
Original photo credit: The Windgrove Center, Tasmania, AU.

In celebration of the 100th post, part two in a ten-part series.

You didn’t think that a doting parent could actually resist the magnetic pull of her child’s first words, did you? Which were uttered over the course of the first hundred posts of this digital paean to parenthood? Yup. So (omitting the obvious Mama and Baba, which did come first), here’s a breezy romp through

My child’s first ten words

1. “eyeball,” Feb 3 (not shitting you. eyeball. she was coached by her cousin.)

2. “Buddha” (pronounced bu-bu, but she was pointing to a statue of the big B), Feb 10

3. “light,” Feb 11

4. “Nonnie” (her across the street chum, technically “Norrie” but why split hairs over a few consonants), Feb 16

5. “yogurt” (pronounced yo-yo), Feb 16

6. “knock knock” (while knocking, mind you. though a joke did not follow, I’m very sorry to report), Feb 17

7. “open it” (pronounced op-it, but I swear it was in reference to opening something), Feb 18

8. “goat” (yahoo! I can’t explain why but I love goats!), Feb 19

9. “cookie,” Feb 20

10. “chimes,” Feb 21

There are oh, so many more. Now she’s wandering around the house critiquing disestablishmentarianism. As apple sauce dribbles down her chin. But this was way back then, in the heady days of her SEVENTEENTH MONTH ON EARTH, people. That would be less than one and a half years (I am so glad she is out of the “months” age range and into the “year + months” age range; I never could keep track). Proud? Yeah, youbetcha. Now I understand why that word is so often coupled with “parent.”

[Third list of ten: Crisis/grief support]

Comments { 3 }

In celebration of the 100th post

A hundred stones on a beach in Tasmania, placed and photographed by a blogger (far more imaginative and intrepid than me) to symbolize and celebrate a hundred blog entries (click the photo to link to them).

Warning! Warning! It’s a blog meme. Or at least I think it is. I’m still enough of a blogospheric rookie that I had to Google it to be sure what it was.

Herewith, on the occasion of my hundredth post, Ten Lists of Ten, which I’ll be rolling out throughout the week in fits and starts. And by rolling, I mean the kind of rolling effect you’d see if someone balled up a mastadon and then pushed and pushed. Not the baseball going down a steep paved street, and it’s your turn to get it kind of rolling. I refer us all to my earlier reference to the fact that I am the very opposite of prolific, and am engaging in a high-spirited daily expunging of text &/or image, just to make all this wild wacky Weblog Awards voting seem worth the effort to both of you — you, Dad, and whoever you buttonholed to keep finding fresh wired computers in this and neighboring zip codes, over and over again. Not that I’m paying ANY attention to any of that.

Now back to the matter at hand. With this Ten Lists of Ten thing, I will try to get each list of ten to be reasonably reflective of the kind of patter I usually issue forth with here. And since I am infinitely fascinated by the universal attraction to diametric oppositions, the first List of Ten will be:

Ten pairs of “two kinds of people”

1. People who would dive head first after a ball on the field and people who would never begin to consider such a thing unless a bomb or their child or a latté were glued to it.

2. People who pause, read, and memorize descriptions on the “lost pet” flyers, and people who don’t.

3. People who knew my mom, and people who didn’t.

4. People who are confronted with a choice like this:

and take the left-hand route up to the street, and people who are confronted with said choice and take the right-hand route. Like me.

5. People who actually wait to hear your answer when they ask “How are you?” and people who, if they happen to listen following the question, are totally surprised if/when you answer truthfully.

6. People who snicker when they hear someone call out “Frau Blucher!” and people who say “Gesundheit.”

7. People who “marry” someone just like their mom, and people who “marry” someone just like their dad. Please note that this also goes for people who have to choose from two parents of the same biological sex, or one parent, or what have you. The magnetic pull to replicate the Parental Unit is undeniable.

8. People who find the humor on the other side of this link funny, and people who don’t, aka me. And that’s something, since one of my favorite “lightbulb” jokes is:

    Q: How many feminists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
    A: That’s not funny!

9. People who divide people up into two artificially opposing camps and people who don’t.

10. People who proofread everything they write before hitting “post” and people who

O this is so fun I may just have to add to the list from here to eternity. Stop me if it all starts to make your head hurt.

[Second list of ten: First words]

Comments { 10 }