Now we are both 64

Yes it was actually back in April but for a few weeks we are the same age as in the Beetles song so long ago. This song is all about the aging of the baby boom generation. We were the young when we heard this song and now we are slowly moving off stage. Our hair has turned gray except for the occasional hair dye. The children of the boomers are grown and living on their own. And we are planning for retirement if not actually retired. We are looking at what kind of legacy we wish to leave our children and their children.

But there is still work to do. In some cases the issues that were considered settled during our youth are being given new clothes and sent out to the ball. There is a chance that North Carolina will pass a law allowing people to refuse to perform interracial marriages or serve such couples on the grounds of religious objection. The Loving case back in the 60s had cleared away that issue. It’s done. Nothing to litigate. But wait the bigots of the past are waving a new stick to prevent equality.

They say, what about their religious rights?It would be one thing if some old minister say he can’t marry someone. But what if this person holds public office/ Can judges be allowed to discriminate That’s what is being attempted in Alabama. The State Supreme Court of Alabama¬† is acting to prevent lower courts from carrying out federal rulings on marriage equality. Right now we have officials showing contempt of the law.

So baby boomers we cannot go gently. We must leave a legacy of equal justice under law. We must continue the good fight. We have not yet left the room.

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Anger management

I find myself becoming more upset than usual these days. This seems a bit surprising because I haven’t been upset regularly in several years. I was in a relationship years ago with a person whose temperament completely clashed with mine. She was way too talkative and seemed to focus a lot on her diet and I ended up yelling at her . I saw that hilarious Adam Sandler movie about a guy who simply refused to express any sort of anger. As a result it seemed that people took advantage of him. I find it difficult to deal with a partner with whom I cannot disagree, even sharply, without her falling apart. It’s what I call give and take.

After I say something angrily I quickly apologize. But perhaps I need to dig a little more deeply into why I am becoming a little more angry. Sorry if I was yelling at anyone while writing this blog entry.

I am generally very even tempered, except for when I am watching sports or listing to political commentary. Almost anything uttered by Governor Walker is bound to upset me so I simply turn the station. When the Packers blew that game against Seattle I became so angry I simply turned off the television and left the room. It helped that there was a meeting with the atheist mythicists, actually they were taping a radio program. So I got away from what was bothering me. But I would like to have a little more insight into my personality. If you can find it lurking around somewhere, please mail it back to me.

Creating positive memories

In our family we remember the unpleasantries and the hurts that we have experienced. My mother will regale you with stories about the way her younger sister constantly failed to keep the electric bill paid. And my sister tells of the time when some of our relatives ripped off our mom’s younger brother. We rarely share stories about what made us a family and how we survived the Great Migration. We had land in the south but our ancestors we forced to leave, so the story goes.

But coming north did not keep us together generations have past and the divisions have cut a hole in the things we share. Perhaps creating a hanging quilt and listing our relationships with one another can be a step towards becoming a family once more. I know that our present situation doesn’t work for me any longer.Camera360_2014_10_11_124912_jpg

Designing the quilt tribute

To me it is very important that the color scheme reflect and celebrate diversity. My nephew is in an interracial relationship, and has an amazing daughter Grace, of whom we expect great things. I would like to have our family members’ names embroidered onto the quilt and have enough space for new names to be added. Quilting is celebrated in African-American and many other traditions. My mother learned it from her grandmother and we are hoping that Grace will learn it from our mother. I also want the quilt to travel and be passed down from generation to generation as an heirloom because at this point we don’t have anything that we can say has bound us together. Instead we are more of a family being pulled apart by bitterness and old bad memories.

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This picture above is my nephew John and his daughter Grace.

Making a quilt for Mom

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The woman in the middle of the picture in this blog is my soon to be 91 year-old mother. She is one of the sources of strength in my life. My companion and I sleep under a quilt that my mother made. Quilting is a part of our heritage as African-Americans. So today when Liz and I went to the St. Charles resale shop I was drawn to a series of quilts nicely displayed in a prominent corner. I am hoping to be able to get a quilt for hanging in our living room and another to send my dear mother. Even though I am giving up the name she gave me, I hope to give her something back. perhaps the woman who makes the quilts will make one I can send my mother.

The quilts I saw were by Ella Brooks, who describes herself as a quilter, teacher and an artist. Della Wells, an artist, author and teacher at UWM, had some pictures of Ella’s work on her Facebook page. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an article about Ella several years ago.

Unexpected turbluence

I am somewhere over Ohio on a big Airbus plane with six seats across. I have three seats all to myself as the fasten your seat belt sign was turned off. We were advised to remain seated in case of unexpected turbulence.

So naturally people are moving throughout the cabin. The connection from my Milwaukee to Chicago flight was so quick I wasn’t able to charge my cell phones. It was much different from when I traveled east for mom’s 90th birthday. Delay after delay finally forced me to rent a car to drive the last 60 miles. It was ridiculous. But today there was none of that.

In the fall, I was in a new relationship and struggling with repair bills from my old car. And my companion and I experienced a type of metaphorical unexpected turbulence. We survived a painful time because of our commitment to one another. Now I am on my second vacation of the year and Milwaukee is warming up after a frigid stretch of below freezing days. Lizzy will be driving our little car and the cat will be doing backflips without me being there to tell him go side down somewhere.

I am grateful for the companionship from Lizzy and the cat because they help distract me from my electronic devices. There has never been a cat that did not decide the perfect time for sitting on your lap was whenever you begin to read a book. I get endless pleasure seeing Mickey distract Lizzy from her reading. We three are a cozy little group, with Mickey’s pink nose, Lizzy’s laughter and caring and my wonderfully smooth skin. Thanks mom. We are set for the next turbluence.

Happy anniversary, Lizzy

We have spent one memorable year together.. It’s been a time of growth and change in the mental health system that we have explored together. We are a vital part of the Recovery Advisory Committee that has guided the implementation of Comprehensive Community Services. This Medicaid benefit could potentially speed the recovery of people in Milwaukee County. It may seem strange or unromantic talking about the work that brought us together but that work is an outgrowth of our values, the things that we are about.

We are people who came of age during our nation’s darkest hour, mired in a horrible war in Southeast Asia that killed hundreds of thousands and continues to kill Americans, Vietnamese and so many more. But we didn’t stop with the idea that our country was on the wrong track. We have set out to help people through compassion and service. That is what made us a couple.

This year has included sadness and challenge, the death of a cat and our growth as people. I am the man you were seeking. I am not one of those sappy granola eating guys who will moon over you all day long. I am a lucky oddball who has been fortunate to find someone who matches my various quirks and eccentricities. May the next 40 years be as much fun as the first as we continue the search for intelligent life in Wisconsin

This is one of those time when waiting and looking for a sweet little atheist really paid off. I am always saddened when I read these stories of atheists complaining that they somehow can’t find non-religious people to have as partners and friends. I think they simply need to keep looking. I’m glad that I did.