Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ethical and Right

There are many things that I do not write about, things that I either don't find appropriate, things that I know I would sound condescending about or things that I just don't know about.  I seldom write about politics, except to say that a dentist who has no experience in education beyond attending a school at some point should not be our Superintendent of Education.  That's not a shock. I do write about education and where education and politics collide, I try to say something worthwhile.

I do not write about God or supreme deities, do not draw pictures of prophets and only occasionally light incense or candles. I try not to complain too much about the economy or the fact that it's taking an inordinate amount of time to find an appropriate job at a college or university so that I can do what I do best.

No, the general purpose of my blog is to puzzle through life and try to figure out the best things to do- to reflect and celebrate and to, if possible, light the way for someone else.  I think best behind a keyboard and when I do, I feel that this is my home.  So tonight- after a long day of fun and games- I am sitting here once again with my cat and some breath mints and contemplating the larger issues in life.

I do believe in being ethical and doing the right things.  I try not to pay others to do what I can do myself.  I mow my own lawn and since mine was used and returned to me broken, I borrowed my friend Cathy's electric mower to mow my lawn.  Here is a photo of what the back looked like when I started:

As you can see, it needs a hair cut.  I considered borrowing some livestock to just eat down the grass. It was over 2' high in places and it was wet.  I have a surprising number of friends with livestock- goats and donkeys and a miniature horse, some cows and even a few sheep.

I had already mowed the front and side yards.  I have about half an acre altogether.  If you don't know what an electric mower is like, let me help you out. An electric mower requires a really long extension cord in order to run.  It does not have emissions the way a gas mower does and so there is no environmental pollution to consider on those high-ozone days.

Electric lawnmowers are heinously under-powered.  As in I felt like I was using a hair dryer to unfreeze the city of Detroit in January.  A pair of kitchen scissors might have done a neater job than this.  The lawn was very tall so I had to first pop it up on the back two tires and go over it and then go over it again on all four.  It was tedious work.  This was compounded by the wet grass which got stuck in the mower.  I ended up turning it over to pull out caked on grass every ten feet.  Like I said, tedious.

I passed the time in my own head, listening to old country- Charley Pride, Hank, Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn- and contemplating ethics, things that are right and wrong, and what my constraints are when dealing with injustice. As I mowed, I rolled over a lot of purple goosebill and a few dandelions.  I like dandelions.  People don't think of them as pretty or useful, but I do.  I like the bright yellow flowers and the broad green leaves. Something happens when they grow up too- they change into a puff of beauty that floats away on the breeze.  Magic. You could see the potential for the seedlings to take off in the sprout of the flower and later in the reaching yellow flower petals.  But you never see a half yellow, half puffball dandelion.

I think it was a puffball all along.

I have a friend that I've known a long time.  We'll refer to this friend as Dandelion.  It's a good descriptor.  People have ignored or thought of Dandelion as a weed.  Some have tried to pull Dandelion out by the roots.  Fact is though, that I have recently learned- as has this person- that Dandelion is one gender trapped in the physical body of the other.  I have seen signs from early on now that I look back on it. The ambiguous hair styles and manner of dress. The physical androgyny and a quiet war taking place on the inside.  A war that almost killed my Dandelion.  Nobody wants a weed.  Then one day, just like that, Dandelion changed into a puffball. A beautiful one, whole and ready to fly on the wind.  And all was right in the world.  I changed the name in my phone and the pronoun associated with Dandelion's stated gender. I wish I could protect this person from the prejudice and hate of the world.  Dandelion has been like a little brother/sister to me these last few years.  But maybe I am not needed. Life finds a way to bloom in ways I cannot imagine and thrives in even the most harsh climates and needs both sunshine and rain to do so.

I was thinking about our upcoming wedding. I think that so far we have done a good job.  Our minister is going to do marriage counseling with us.  She preaches up in Tulsa but lives here in Norman.  Her calling is in working with vulnerable populations such as LGBT youth.  She knows that neither Grey nor I make a ton of money and offered us a discount rate.  Grey and I talked about it, and decided that even if we do not do everything we want in the wedding, pastoring is a thankless calling with little enough compensation.  We wouldn't feel right paying less than the very fair donation she asked.  She insisted.  We insisted.  She gave in; we smiled and felt as though we did the right thing.  It's the helping professions that get the financial shaft and we will be damned if we are going to do that.  Grey once seriously considered seminary when picking his profession and that's still something he might do.  I think he would be wonderful.

In any case, there are a lot of issues when dealing with weddings and shit like that.  We needed a ring, and I am not about to purchase a blood diamond from the mines of Botswana or D.R. Congo.  If you don't know what that means, click here.  Since almost every jewelry store in my area had zero idea what a conflict diamond was, we had few options. First, we could reset a diamond that we already had.  Not a problem, but I didn't really want a marquis cut diamond.  Next, we could go with a laboratory-created diamond, which is just like a mined diamond. I like that idea since they are the exact same thing. People just get their undies in a bunch because if we believed that all diamonds are alike, then the price would plummet on them.  And all diamonds really are alike.  Finally, we could find a previously-owned diamond that has been re-set.

In our search, we came across Kay Jewelers at the mall. We had talked to several jewelers by this time and they pretended not to know what the hell a blood diamond was.  The sales associate at Kay was just as clueless, until her colleague set her straight.  The colleague was a young woman with what I think was an Eastern Block accent.  I'm too ignorant of Eastern European languages to be more specific, except that I think it was not a Russian accent. She said that they did not sell ethical diamonds in the store but if we wanted the previously owned rings, then the website was the place to go.

So we did.  And we found just what we were looking for. Nothing gawdy, nothing outside of our budget. But a beautiful and meaningful- and ethical- symbol in white gold.

Other considerations about the wedding include growing some of the flowers, not throwing a bunch of plastic away at the conclusion, not having hydrogenated oils in the wedding cake (thank God for Whole Foods) and using bubbles and birdseed at the conclusion.  Hell, I'm even borrowing shoes and pearls for the event.  We are keeping it small too, just 40 people are being invited. Then after a few weeks, we'll have a reception just for our friends at the house. Oh, and there will be Jelly Bellys.

That's about it. That's what I thought of, more or less, as I mowed the yard. A few hours later, this is what I came up with.  All I can say is that at least it's shorter than it was.

As I methodically plow through the yard and carefully plan a sunny day where we'll meet and make promises in public that we have already made in private, I cannot help but wonder where we will be in a year.  Heck, I wonder where we'll be in four months.  Maybe in a cosmic way, in a way that only God or Buddha can discern, that makes me a dandelion seed too.


  1. I like the both of you so very much. Be well and have an ocean of happiness on whic to sail!

  2. Holy cow. This is an awesome post! I love your writing. I love you dearly, Mindie. Your blog brought tears of gratitude and joy. Thank you for seeing the beauty in the weed and for sticking it out long enough to see the puff ball. Know this: I still need you. Got that? I still need you. I cannot express how much you have helped me along this path. While you may not be able to protect me from the prejudice and hate, maybe you can stand beside me and help me fight against it. We have a long road ahead of us. At the end, there will be rewards richer than money can buy. There will be equality and justice. But we dandelions need people like you who don't cast us aside in an effort to make the world "more beautiful." Thank you for everything, Mindie. Thank you for being my friend, my ally, my sounding board, my teacher. I couldn't have made it this far without you and I know I don't want to go any further without you right there with me. The world needs more people like you.

    1. Hi, Dandelion. I may not know you personally, but I just wanted to wish you the very best in your journey moving forward. I haven't been through the same thing, but I do know how it feels to hate the body you're born with when it seems to be working against you. I'm glad you have Mindie as a friend, as I agree that she's fantastic. All the best, Hayley :)

  3. Such a beautiful beautiful story, especially about your Dandelion. I know that Dandy would appreciate it and I see that I was right. He always made me think of my dandelion, so intelligent and sensitive. love you, Mindie.

  4. I agree with Rachel, a beautiful story. I also agree with Dandelion - you're a wonderful person, Mindie, one of my favorites! :D I love how your wedding plans are taking shape and that you could find an ethical diamond.