Wednesday, June 29, 2011

My artwork

Untitled (Circa 1999)

Monday, June 27, 2011

New York legalized gay marriage and it feels personal

I understand that despite the legality of same-sex marriage within a state, the Defense of Marriage Act still causes all sorts of serious problems for gay couples who wish to marry and want the full gamut of rights equivalent to those granted to their straight counterparts. This is a major issue and a battle that still needs to be won in the fight for equality. However, that aside, I must say that I feel extremely elated and emotional about the passage of the marriage equality bill in New York this past weekend. I was actually surprised at how much it has touched me.

For all of my adult life, I felt very open to the idea of falling in love with a man or a woman. However, since I had only had relationships with men, I assumed that although I was open and had no issue with the idea of lesbianism, that I was, in fact, straight. Then, I fell in love with a woman. It was a shock to me and I really was surprised at the feelings I was having. Those feelings turned into a serious relationship and I realized that I was, in fact, truly bisexual - but even that term didn't make much sense to me (seeming so definitive). What I have preferred to call myself is "open." However, that doesn't change the fact that I am attracted to both men and women, as is summarized in the definition of bisexuality

Having been in a same-sex relationship for a few years, I had plenty of time to experience prejudices and the repercussions thereof - both those that were mild (those actions that people probably didn't even realize they were doing) and ones a bit more intense. There was the incessant staring and comments from strangers (often sexual and lacking any respect). There was the push-back and fear from some people close to me. There was the angry man who spoke hateful slurs and tried to physically hurt my then-girlfriend. There was the all-too-common, "Are you two sisters?" question when we would hold hands in public. There was the persistent exposure to negative proclamations in the media or from strangers, such as: homosexuality is an illness, homosexuals are going to hell, homosexuality is disgusting, and so on (nothing like making one feel rejected).

There was not the usual, "Do you think a proposal will happen soon?!" type of excited questions that you get from fellow women when you are in a heterosexual relationship, which I happen to love so much (since I'm a big romantic). There is, however, the fear of not being accepted everywhere you go. There is the ever-present anxiety of, "Wow, despite all of this, we must actually have it really good since we live in New York City. What will it be like if we wanted to move elsewhere someday?" Also, there's the need for acceptance and consideration that if we ever wanted to have a family, prejudice against our innocent children would be something we would have to prepare for. And I could honestly go on, ad infinitum.

Although dealing with these difficulties is not something I would actively choose, I am not one to shy away from adversity at the expense of love. Love is what life is about; Pure and simple, it's about loving others. I get teary-eyed when I think about how I had to justify, explain, or deal with barriers and prejudice because of the fact that I had fallen in love with a woman. I have a hard time accepting that not everyone believes and sees people as spirits within something called a body and that we are not our bodies. I fall in love with people, not their genitals, and I am saddened that this is difficult for some to comprehend. I also am confounded at how those who worship Jesus (who preached solely in love's favor) or other spiritual leaders can justify the belief that those enlightened beings would be unloving or punishing towards anyone.

Thankfully, I have felt for a while that there has been a growing shift in public opinion towards homosexuality. Although we have a long way to go, as horrors such as children committing suicide over it are still occurring (which really says something don't you think?), I feel like things are continuing to change, particularly with the passage of the marriage equality bill in New York, the third most populated state in the U.S. The fact that my home state is now acknowledging my right to marry whomever I love makes me feel more accepted, free, and so very grateful. Maybe now, if I ever fall in love with a woman again, people will be more likely to ask me if there's a proposal in the works. Thank you, New York, and to those of you out there who understand that the power of love is beyond the scope of a person's gender.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


If you want a song to give you the power to get through something, here it is. As always, turn it up!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Free your mind

Call me crazy, but with marriage equality for New York hanging in the balance with one more vote remaining to pass the bill, the song "Free Your Mind" by En Vogue seems very apropos. Although its lyrics speak about racial equality, the same sentiment can be applied to equality of sexual orientation. (Plus, this song never goes out of style.) Let it remind us of the power of love, freedom, and togetherness, as opposed to prejudice, fear, oppression, and separation. Let people love who they love.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The best version of "Hey Jude" that you ever did hear

Here is an adorable little boy who can't be older than two displaying such adorable talent. Do yourself a favor and at least watch until the one minute and twenty-five second mark. If this doesn't make you smile, I'd be tempted to say that perhaps not much ever could. This version of "Hey Jude" is the best that I've ever seen and never fails to brighten a moment.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

My artwork

A fantasy world. The paper is a bit warped, but you get the gist. Mixed media. (Circa 2000)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's time

I feel very excited and hopeful about Governor Andrew Cuomo introducing a marriage equality bill in New York today. I've been sending positive vibes out into the universe saying that it's definitely time for this change. Here's hoping that love will triumph sooner rather than later.

Monday, June 13, 2011

We belong

What's coming out of my heart and speakers right now is "We Belong" by Pat Benatar. Hmmmm, it may sound uncreative, but what I am moved to say is that this song really does make me feel like I "belong" to something powerful and amazing when I listen to it... But, whether or not you feel the same, one thing to remember is that this song needs to be played very loud (a recommendation I will probably continue to make for most of the music I share with you).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Apartment hunting? Don't forget about the breeze

Just a suggestion, if you are apartment hunting, definitely look for a place that is at least on the second floor. I love my apartment; It's somewhat big by New York City's standards, has a ton of closet/storage space, and has high ceilings and lots of light. There's only one problem: it is on the first floor.

On cool nights like tonight, there is nothing I would love more than to open all my windows and fall asleep with the natural brisk air flowing through my apartment. But, alas, I cannot. It's just not worth the risk. Even though I live in a very safe neighborhood, being almost on ground level someone could easily climb into my apartment and steal something, or worse... Therefore, I always, very unfortunately, sleep with all my windows locked up tight. 

Although I'm obviously safer this way, it allows for no movement of airflow in my apartment, and so it gets very hot, very fast. Therefore, I have to use a fan or an air conditioner (I can't sleep when I'm hot). This, of course, means more money and recycled, instead of fresh, air when what I really crave is to have the sound and feel of the breeze put me to sleep.

Back when I was looking for an apartment, the thought of being able or not being able to safely leave my windows open at night never entered my thoughts. Therefore, to those of you seeking a new place, my suggestion is to keep this in mind because I sure wish I had!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bring me a higher love

What's coming out of my heart and speakers right now is Higher Love by Steve Winwood. I love this song. Interpret it as you will, depending on what's going on in your world at the time. Maybe one day it's about spirituality, maybe one days it's about life, maybe one day it's about a romantic relationship. Whatever way you look at it, it's about love.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Allergies stink! Here's something that may help

I have very bad common allergies. Dust, dander, mold, pollen, and grass are pure torture for me. I have had three series of allergy shots in my lifetime and still my allergies act up. Recently, I changed my diet (which I will discuss in more detail in a later post) and I also frequently do nasal saline rinses, both of which have been extraordinarily beneficial at helping to minimize my allergies. However, at times, particularly in the past month or so, I was still hit with fits of sneezing, congestion, headaches, etc. I had recently made the decision to minimize the amount of over the counter medication I take and so was resistant to taking allergy medications, so I was suffering. I thought perhaps acupuncture would help, but before trying it my friend suggested I try local honey.

"Local honey?" I thought, perplexed, but then I did some research. Apparently, local honey helps build immunity to local allergies. When you ingest the pollen in the honey, your body becomes more and more tolerant of it and it inoculates you against your allergic reaction to the local pollen. I was stunned. I was very familiar with the concept of being immunized against allergies, but not by a regular food source (although it does seem logical.) I had to try it out. Plus, I was willing to do anything that would be more holistic than taking medication and cheaper than acupuncture. 

I researched New York City local honey and ran into some luck. The only provider of truly local honey (within a mile or so) in NYC that I could find was David Graves' New York City Rooftop Honey. He actually harvests the honey from hives located on rooftops in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn! The next day I rushed down to the Union Square Greenmarket to pick up a jar. The price tag - $15 for a small jar - seemed hefty for honey, but I reminded myself that I was actually purchasing natural medicine that could potentially alleviate much discomfort in my life, and that is exactly what it did.

I began taking a tablespoon of honey on an empty stomach (and not eating for a while afterward) daily. At first, it seemed to spike some allergy symptoms for an hour or so after ingesting it, but within two weeks, I began to see an overall decrease in my allergy symptoms. Although I still experience allergies at times, it's not nearly as bad as it has been in the past. I was shocked when, not once but a few times, I would hear others complaining about their allergies while I was having hardly any symptoms. I'm so grateful that I tried out this holistic cure and definitely recommend it.

If you decide to try taking honey to help with your allergies, here are a few things to remember:

1.  It must be honey that is harvested near to where you spend most of your time - the closer to your home that the honey is produced by bees, the better it will work.
2.  Because the honey only helps with allergies caused by local pollen, it may not help with allergens from other areas or other sources (like pollen from another state, dust, or pet dander, to give a few examples).
3.  If you have bad asthma, be careful. Start off slowly with the honey and make sure you have someone with you for a few hours after taking it the first few times in case it triggers an asthmatic allergic reaction.
4.  Keep in mind that other factors, such as your diet, can also potentially impact your allergies. I have found that drinking a lot of water is helpful in reducing allergies, as is eating less (or no) dairy.

(For readers living in NYC who would like to try New York City Rooftop Honey, David Graves sells his honey at the Berkshire Berries stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The location changes depending on the day, so check out the map before you go.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Quote of the moment

"Have you ever had one of those days where nothing all that monumental happens, but by the end of it you have no idea who you are or what the hell you are doing with your life? Do you ever have one of those days?" - Robin in the sitcom "How I Met Your Mother"

This quote describes me perfectly lately. Sometimes I feel very calm, secure, and confident in what I am doing with my life. Those times when I feel good about where I am at are comforting and I feel content. 

However, once in a while, I have moments where suddenly something will strike me emotionally and I'll have a longing that I hadn't felt before, or I'll realize something about myself that had been dormant for awhile or just appeared and will suddenly question all that I'm doing and the whole point of my life. I'll wonder what it is that I truly want my life to be about. I will then either realize something about my journey and find deeper meaning in what I am already doing, or, it will be a bit of a longer period of revelation where I will realize that I need to open up another pathway to walk down. Sometimes that involves letting something go, sometimes it involves adding something, and at times, it consists of both.

Right now, I am definitely going through one of those times. I have been feeling a bit lost. There has been a shift in what I want to do with my life, but I don't know in what direction that shift is meant to push me in, and that has left me feeling unsettled. I had thought that I was settled, but it turns out that perhaps I am meant to do other things.

Thankfully though, the other day I spoke with a friend. I told him how I am questioning what I want to do in the next few years. I explained how every other day different ideas are coming to me: Should I teach art? Move to Paris? Write a children's book? Help people redesign their homes? Go back to fashion school? Get involved in HIV/AIDS education? Stick with what I'm doing but volunteer more? Create paintings? I expressed my fear and upset about not knowing what to do next and my discomfort with being somewhere "in-between."

A huge smile came across his face as he told me, enthusiastically, something to the effect of, "This is great. This is so exciting. You are figuring out who you are now. What will you do next? How wonderful!" In that moment, I realized he was right. The way I had been looking at this was all wrong. I'm not lost, I'm seeking. I'm not powerless, I'm challenging things. I'm not staying still, I'm moving forward.

I realized that living life is about constant growth through experiences, and these shifts, changes, and discoveries are how we achieve a life lived to the fullest. So, now, I'm learning to embrace the uncertainty.