I lost a friend today. Not just any friend, but a dynamically important friend. He actually died in early November, but no one called us, his family, to let us know. We found out yesterday. Richard and I have been friends since the early 1970s. We have been “sistuhs” since coming up in the discos during the era of polyester, thumping bass, and champagne splits at gay bars around Sacramento and San Jose. I will miss my friend for so many reasons. Our history is long and always loving.
What makes this so much more difficult is that the series of losses in the last few years of life-long family/friends closest to me, David, Mark, Joe, Miriam, and now Richard, is increasing. These are people that are my brothers and sisters, whether by birth or love. I’ve been so graced to have so many to call my dearest friends in life. Of the friends with whom I’ve stayed consistently close to for more than 35 years, only five remain, Margaret, David, Jeff, Sharon, and Shirley.
My more recent friends, and by that I mean people with whom I’ve been close for 12 to 20 years or more, like Cathy, Sandy, Jeff K., and others are just as vital to my emotional and spiritual well-being. These oldest friends, though, are important in a different way, because now that my family of origin, the three others in the Floyd Glica family, are gone, these friends are the only ones with whom I can share our memories nearly as closely as family. Even my siblings by birth have not known me as long as my oldest friends.
The road grows more challenging without these comrades by my side where I can hear their advice, see their smiles, or hug their warm souls in person. Sometimes, I feel like I will be like my 92-year-old Aunt Mary who talks about being the last one of her friends to remain here to remember. In my selfishness, I don’t want to be the last one standing. The pain, I think, would be unbearable.
I will miss my beloved family and friends forever.
According to a recent report from NBC affilliate, KCRA 3 in Sacramento, California, Governor Schwarzenegger has once again carved into the lives of the poor, the young, the infirmed, and those least able to bear the edge of his economic scalpel.
Programs like Cal-WORKS, which is the work-for-welfare program, mental health services, foster parent programs, and other necessary departments are being slashed to accommodate the $20 billion shortfall. According to the report, this budget reduction will affect 1.4 million people in the third largest state in the union. With a total population of 38,292,687 California citizens, that means that over 3.5% of the people in the Golden State are going to have to decide what to do in response to this situation.
One must wonder whether the highest paid administrators in state government are taking cuts in their pay, or if there is going to be a reduction in any of their benefits.
The lame duck governor has also indicated that a budget will not be signed that is not accompanied by budget and pension reforms. That is akin to saying that we must have better architectural plans for a barn that is currently burning. I’m certain that in Governor Schwarzenegger’s mind he is trying to avoid future issues of this type; however, as is spoken in the vernacular, he is “a day late and a dollar short.”
It was less than a year ago, we were discussing the the fact that the governor was flexing his muscles in areas that were not a top priority for the majority of Californians.
Programs such as research grants, expansion of prisons and universities, secondary transportation activities that are not being supplemented by the federal government, and parks and recreation should be cut long before programs that support children and the ill.
There should be three rules of thumb by which the governor reviews the budget:
1. Does this item support our children in any way?
2. Does this item support physical and mental health care for the largest number of people?
3. Does this item promote employment in the state?
Anything else should be eligble for reduction.
The ironic thing is that after all these years contending with Governor Schwarenegger, we’re finally realizing that he doesn’t meet any of these criteria.
Hey! that gives me an idea!
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There are many people who have lived in the United States of America who have not had a voice. Those voiceless people were expected by those in power to sit silently as others made decisions for them.
The Native Americans were expected to stand aside as Europeans settled their sacred land.
African natives and their descendants were expected to work as slaves as European descendants built their livelihoods on these slaves’ sweat and blood.
The Chinese railroad workers were expected to accept what they received as they built the Transcontinental Railroad.
Mexicans were expected to work as farm laborers without adequate pay or human services while farmers earned their living.
The one thing each of these oppressed groups had in common was that they all spoke up. They fought back. Those wise enough and strong enough stepped up to demand that their message be heard. The voices of John Smith and Pocahontas in Jamestown, Virginia; the Chinese striking railroad workers on Donner Pass, in 1867; Frederick Douglas and Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War; and Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta during the founding of the National Farmworkers Association, all resounded throughout the country as their messages of equality, health, safety, and full citizenship were heralded.
We are facing a federal court case in San Francisco that will assess whether the vote on California’s Proposition 8 was legal. Prop 8 passed in November 2008 and because it passed, the now enforceable California Marriage Protection Act added language to Section 7.5 of Article 1, of the California Constitution that stated, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California.”
As we look toward the future of equal marriage rights and citizenship rights for the gay community, we are fortunate to have many voices calling for full citizenship in the United States. The tragic part is that the one voice that is more necessary than any others is falling eerily silent during this time of change.
Instead of standing tall for the freedom and voice of the gay community, President Barack Obama is peering from the sidelines. Rather than stating emphatically that the rights of one citizen of our country shall be granted, without hesitation or fear, to all citizens of our country, regardless of race, creed, economic status, disability, or sexual orientation, he simply waits quietly. Somehow, amazingly, President Obama appears to believe that we should allow this debate to continue as a people while hearing only a vacuum in the Oval Office.
From Presidents Bush, Reagan, Nixon, Ford, and others of their ilk, this philosophy of inequality is strangely understandable. Because they were reared in another social era, holding onto conservative beliefs, their frames of reference should be expected to be as they were.
With Presidents Carter and Clinton, the time had not yet arrived for this message of equality.
As for President Bush, Jr., our expectations of him had to be held very, very low because he was just not capable of anything more.
“And to whomsoever much is given, of him shall much be required: and to whom they commit much, of him will they ask the more.” Luke 12:48 (Holy Bible)
Not only has President Obama been given the mantle of President, he has also been given a place in American history that not one other human being can ever have. He is the first African-American to hold this position. With that place in history, Americans have incredibly high expectations of him. We must remember, however, that he is not obligated to support all equal rights issues just because he holds this place in American history. He is simply a human being making human decisions.
Perhaps because of the powerful Black leaders of the past, including Frederick Douglas, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and General Colin Powell, we’ve hoped that President Obama would join their ranks in fearless defense of all citizens of our country. That simply may not be the case. He may just wait for others to do the work before he steps up to say, “Well done.”
The hardest part for many people in this country is to imagine that President Obama will blandly meld into the lineage of so many other American presidents by turning what could have been a dynamic era in U.S. history into a watered down revisitation of other administrations. Perhaps he will lean more toward his European heritage and become the politician that so many U.S. presidents have become instead of the noble statesman he has the capacity to become.
The truth is, Americans do expect more from President Obama. At a certain level, he is the first of his culture to leap the White House in a single bound. He is, I suppose, perceived as our Captain America. He shouldn’t be. He’s just a person like the rest of us.
After all his promises of change, the only real change we may see through him is his ethnic background. He may prove to disbelievers that there really is no difference between the races or cultures in America. Any person in the White House can be just as afraid of disapproval as any other person, and in that fear, remain silent when there are people who need vocal and active leadership.
When we, as California residents, look at this period in our history, we will shake our heads. We will wonder how it is that we twice elected a movie star… again… to run the seventh largest economy in the world; someone who cannot see beyond his own satisfied reflection in his mirror. We will ask ourselves, “What was wrong with us?”
Today, I received a letter from the governor, in response to a letter I wrote to him, asking him to work on the budget before him remembering that his actions would affect multitudes of the poor and disabled, the young and the elderly, the unemployed and destitute. He proudly suggested that he was doing what was best for our state, even though he understood, “that college students will pay higher tuitions, some teachers may be laid off, and our state workers will get less money. But the only way to save our great state is to spread the sacrifice.”
Spread the sacrifice? The only people who are sacrificing in his budget are those who can least afford to lose anything in this dire economy, one to which he refers in the letter as the “greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
His inability to see beyond his own nose, to recognize what real suffering is in this state, is abominable. I believe with every fibre of my being that as he sits in his capital office, he genuinely thinks that things will be better in the long run because of his cuts. He couldn’t be more wrong.
State workers, the poor, and families of sick children and adults will all be in more debt because of his cuts. They will lose their homes, if they still have them, max out their credit cards, borrow from family members who can ill afford to help, and grow our state debt for Medi-Cal costs, so that Governor Schwarzenegger can say he balanced the budget. All he has done is to flex his muscles to impress those in power, believing that those of us at the grassroots are buying his malarkey.
In addition, our children will be less able to compete in the job market because of the cuts to education funding. The most qualified teachers are going to leave the state to make a reasonable living in an environment that isn’t impacted with more than thirty children to a classroom.
After thirteen years of working for the State, I can tell you that the budget is a series of creative numbers, moved around to show what officials want them to show. Nothing has really changed at the state level. We still get our federal monies. We still get all our taxes. We will still operate the programs that are a priority to the Governor.
The only thing that has changed is the perception of the right-wing politicians who can now feel vindicated by the governor’s signature on this decimating bill.
I am deeply saddened by the Governor’s choice making abilities and that he sees so little about those he serves. My only solace is that this nightmare will be over in a year.
Sometimes, change happens all at once. Usually, however, it happens in tiny increments, especially when it comes to social change.
United States Senator Barbara Boxer (California) recently distributed an e-mail indicating that she is joining a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The passage of ENDA would prohibit all employers, employment agencies, labor organizations and other groups who hire and fire staff from firing, refusing to hire, or discriminating against anyone on the basis of their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity.
This bill has already been supported by high profile national civil rights and labor organizations and more than fifty Fortune 500 companies.
One must wonder if the significance of this era is being missed by those who feel they are not directly involved in the movement toward the eradication of discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender citizens?
Is it even possible to realize how important a particular shift in public perception is until after the transition is complete? The movements to ensure a woman’s right to vote and the acknowledgement of and action against racial discrimination began in small ways, but it wasn’t until the lion’s share of the legislation was passed that we could begin to fathom just how pervasive the blight of hatred and disrespect had been and how far we were stepping ahead.
Senator Boxer’s note to all of us was particularly welcome given that President Obama has shown so little dynamic leadership in relation to repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Pursue (DADT) policies currently on the books in our country.
The best news about ENDA is that it is a bipartisan effort by our Federal legislators. Nothing gives us greater hope for our future than when, on both sides of the aisle, our elected officials choose to correct a horrible injustice in our laws and societal patterns in such a dynamic way.
Slowly, the awakening is beginning that each person, no matter how they are identified in the little boxes on most forms, has the right to all the freedoms promised in our United States Constitution. This new effort is one more important step.
Congratulations to everyone involved in the passage of this bill!
My dear friends,
In February 2009, I began a process of writing in a more focused manner than I’ve ever done before. In what was for me a huge emotional risk, I presented these words for public consumption. Rightly or wrongly, I have chosen to express my thoughts, feelings, experiences, and challenges in a more visible forum. These blogs now number one hundred which coincides today, July 17, 2009, with my fiftieth (50th) birthday.
I am humbled by the generous responses I’ve received to my writing. My blogs have been argued, dismissed, and appreciated along the way. All of this feedback has truly helped me develop as a writer.
The confidence that I have seen grow in these last six months has prepared me for a larger work on which I’m currently working, my memoir about adoption, genealogy, and family, in general entitled, Interwoven. I now trust my words in ways I never imagined possible, which is a surprising accomplishment for one who has only recently chosen to follow this new artistic path at this nearly-Grandma Moses time of my life.
So, let me take this moment to say thank you to everyone reading my tiny tome-home on the blogosphere for their time and energy shared with me.
I especially want to thank two special people who have provided significant guidance, wisdom and love on this particular part of my path.
First, Suzanne White, an amazing person and author of many important works, not the least of which are, The New Chinese Astrology and The New Astrology, has been such a generous source of strength and courage for me along the way. I will never be able to adequately express my gratitude for her participation in my process. I tip my hat and humbly bow to your experience and strength of purpose, Suzanne.
Last, but by no means least, my cousin, Catherine Herrera, who as an artist, photographer, videographer, and historian, has most intimately walked with me down this challenging and invigorating road of writing and genealogy. Her genetic knowingness and keen intellect have given me insights into my writing and into myself that few others could have done so patiently and lovingly. Thank you, Cousin.
So, as I begin my next one hundred blogs, please know how grateful I am to those of you who visit me here. I pray for your continuing and increasing health, happiness, and abundance for many years to come. May your successes be large, joyful, and deeply satisfying.
Be well, dear friends, and from the bottom of my heart, thank you!
If the title of this piece is a little cheesy, it is appropriate given the nature of this article. And, incidentally, “No! You may not threaten the tiny Squeeze Inn Restaurant.”
There is an horrific outcry from the affected citizenry in Sacramento, California at the recent lawsuit brought by a Sacramento resident against this tiny eating establishment.
There are few things that would elicit this type of vehement reaction from those of us familiar with this Sacramento landmark. Cruelty to a child. Injuring an animal. Damaging the Constitution. Suing Squeeze Inn. These are, for us, nearly equal obscenities. The Constitution thing may actually come after the Squeeze Inn offense.
Kimberly Block, 41, of Sacramento is suing the tiny, beloved eatery because she says as an individual in a wheelchair, she does not have equal access to the inside of the building. With a long counter, eleven stools and not much more room than a narrow hallway for customers to sit, I as a portly gentleman, barely have room to sit in that place. I will say, however, that I don’t care. I will squeeze my abundance into that phenomenal burger joint to share in one of the most amazing hamburgers I have tasted in my entire life.
I can certainly understand why Ms. Block is frustrated. I also respect her desire for equal access. I must wonder whether she is going to sue the City of Sacramento because if she wanted to work in the sewer system, there isn’t adequate ability to do so? It is a quandry whether she will sue the Lincoln Memorial because she cannot walk up the steps to see the enormous statue within? Sure the are pulleys and ramps that will help with either of those situations, but there are some things that would radically change the environment about which we are discussing.
I don’t want to see a ramp into the sewers for easy access, and I don’t want to see a pulley system in the middle of the stairs at the Lincoln Memorial, quite frankly.
There are two options as far as I’m concerned that would resolve this issue at Squeeze Inn.
One is that they could expand the seating area to include areas for wheelchairs. This, of course, would require that they change the name of the restaurant to “Breeze In,” since the entire ambiance would be changed indoors. That wouldn’t be good at all.
The other option is to make an enclosed seating area for disabled people where the bottom of the stairs is now. That way a server could go outside and serve the customers while they wait for their delectable, cheesy meals. This is the more acceptable solution, although the limited parking in front of the store would be even more limited. Squeeze Inn refers to both the seating area and the parking lot.
Ms. Block, who apparently is lining up lawsuits around Sacramento because of the access issue for individuals with disability, is elusive in this process. She will not respond to media inquiries and, yet, she continues to drop lawsuits like IEDs. Is she a woman on a genuine mission or a mercenary who will get what she can while she can?
As a man who could barely walk for months on end because of major back issues, I understand completely about access concerns. I also know there are alternatives. I suspect this litigious woman is out to get what she can from any business who may be in the least bit vulnerable. In a way, she is doing what she is accusing others of doing: making things more difficult for those who are least able to respond.
Should this lawsuit terminate Squeeze Inn’s ability to operate financially, I am certain that, not unlike the stories of Frankenstein and Dracula, the townspeople will direct their metaphorical pitchforks and torches and literal animosity toward Ms. Block.
No one is ready for that day to come.
Squeeze Inn, 7916 Fruitridge Avenue, Sacramento, CA Telephone number: 916-386-8599 is where you should go to find out what all the fuss is about.
The lanai in our backyard is the best testament to how hot our little berg of Sacramento, California actually gets. The thermometer is always a few degrees hotter than the stated temperature on the news. For several of the last few days it’s been hovering between 105 and 110 degrees.
I’ve been living in the capitol city of California since 1976. I’ve seen snow in the valley, wind storms that approach tornado strength, threats of floods, and some of the most beautiful spring weather one can imagine. In these last few years, it has clearly felt as though the temperature in the summer is getting hotter. According to a National Weather Service Report*, the records for the number of 100-plus degree days has multiplied in the last twenty years. 1988 was a record breaker by having 41 days of temperatures over 100 degrees and 18 days over 105 degrees. 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990, 1998, 2002, and 2003 all posted record number of days of these extremely elevated periods of temperatures over the century mark.
The fascinating part to me is that prior to these dates, we have to go back to the eleven days over 105 degrees in 1961 and 30 days over 100 degrees in 1931 to find some of the highest temperatures on record.
We are living in a sweltering period in Sacramento, and although we rigorously complain about the heat, sometimes I wonder if we realize just what kind of damage is being done.
If one puts a plastic plate, a metal plate, and a china plate in an oven, leaving it on high for days, each of the plates gets damaged to a greater or lesser degree. The longer they stay in that heat, the worse the damage. We, as human being are no different than these plates.
I am not a scientist or meteorologist. I am simply a resident who finds the fact that we a scorching ourselves without taking overt and dynamic action to relieve the pressure on our ozone layer, irresponsible, at least, and insane, at most.
We are not lasagna. We do not need to bake this way. I, for one, am asking, “Will you please get me out of this oppresive heat? I’m done!”
* “Climate of Sacramento California” Revised 2007, George Cline, Félix García, National Weather Service Office, Sacramento, CA, p 46
It is grizzly to conceptualize, let alone view, a photo of someone at or immediately after their death.
When I saw the photo of Michael Jackson in his final moments on the front of a couple of magazine covers, I was simply mortified!
Shame on those editors who decided it was a good idea. They just lost a little of their souls in that moment. Sadly, it only cost them $5.95 per issue.
No matter how public a figure, the family should not have to have photos like that plastered all over places like supermarkets and liquor stores for public consumption and I, for one, condemn those who opted to publish those photos, especially on the front cover.
While I understand that publications have the right of free speech, I always learned that one’s rights ended at another person’s nose. These filthy rags should be sued, and sued well, for their horrific invasion into the Jackson family’s tragedy and grief.
I shall never again purchase any magazine that held those images.