Monday, November 19, 2012

we bought a house!

We did it!

We are now the proud owners of a mid-century modern semidetached in Randle Heights. We're close to the Parkway, within walking distance of a Metro stop, convenience store, carryout and liquor store, about a mile from the grocery and a short commute to my school.

I literally could not be happier. I am actually this excited:

Now all we need is to move up our furniture from New Orleans, new front stairs, the lawn mowed, window boxes, paint, paint, and more paint, a housewarming party- you get the picture. But we can't wait. New adventure YAY!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Lincoln in review

So I saw Lincoln at the Bethesda Row Cinema on Friday night. My mom agreed to go with me - nothing is better than a Mom Date - and picked me up and everything. When we got to the theater at 8:30, we found out that they were sold out until their last showing of the evening - at 10:15. Well, OK. We're grown-ups, dammit. So we bought our tickets, and gave tapas at Jaleo a shot.

I like tapas, but it was my mom's first time, and she was... let's say underwhelmed. On the 18-month old Serrano ham: "It tastes like it's twenty years old." On the mushrooms: "I'm pretty sure this is what whale blubber tastes like." I thought everything we ordered (gambas al ajillio, gambas gabardino, the 18-month aged Serrano ham, the chicken dish and the setas with potato puree) was fine, but for all the hype, none of the food was enough to make us come back again. Although their Coke was delicious.

But Lincoln? Fantastic. I've been a Lincoln buff since before I have memories. When my kindergarten classmates wanted to be princesses and firefighters, I wanted to be Abraham Lincoln. I can only imagine my poor parents having to break it to their three-year old daughter that she cannot, in fact, be a dead white man, and having to soothe her hurt feelings by reassuring her that she'll just have to be the president instead.

I digress. As a historian and former costume designer, the movie was eye and brain candy for my soul. Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals with a screenplay written by Tony Kushner (of Angels in America fame), it focuses on Lincoln's attempt to push the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives in the months before his assassination. This is clearly and firmly placed within the context of the final months of the Civil War, and in the emotional aftermath of the Lincoln family losing son Willie to typhoid. The film paints a vivid picture of Lincoln the man, a consummate storyteller and shrewd politician, one willing to circumvent the law to enact morally right but legally suspect edicts like the Emancipation Proclamation.

The performances in the film are fantastic as well. Daniel Day-Lewis is nothing short of breath-taking as Lincoln. I feared that Lincoln would be given the stereotypical moral hero treatment, with a deep, booming voice and vaguely British-sounding accent - you know, so you remember it's old-timey and that he's important. But instead, DDL stays true to the historical accounts of Lincoln that stress the president's high pitched, nasal, reedy voice with a slight Kentucky drawl. He's also clearly studied that dreamy, faraway gaze of Lincoln so familiar from Mathew Brady's photographs. Sally Field gives a subtle, toned-down portrayal of Mary Todd, one with whom a viewer can be far more sympathetic than Mary Tyler Moore's histrionic ball-buster from Gore Vidal's Lincoln. Jared Harris, one of my favorite actors from Mad Men, shows up as a near-ringer for General Grant; his American accent is far better than David Oyelowo's, whose brief cameo as a USCT upstart is the weakest of the film. David Strathairn is predictably solid as Secretary of State William Seward. Tommy Lee Jones is even better as Senator Thaddeus Stevens. A quick Google Image search of Stevens shows how cantankerous he so clearly was in real life, but Jones plays him with a lovable crankiness that makes him one of the best parts of the movie; the resolution of his storyline is easily one of the film's most delightful.

From my view, the film's only weakness is its last two minutes (I call this "the Spike Lee treatment"). The scene in which the president leaves the White House for Ford's Theater after a light-hearted exchange with his butler should have been the end. Instead, the audience is forced to endure a confusing expository scene of Tad discovering his father's death in another theater, an awkwardly delivered "He belong to the ages now" from Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and a painfully hokey superimposition of Lincoln inside of a flame that pans to a closing speech (I'm embarrassed that I still can't remember which one it is). Viewers unfamiliar with Civil War politicians and Cabinet members may also find the constant barrage of new characters confusing.

So if you can't tell by now, I'm a colossal Lincoln nerd, and I loved the movie. I definitely see it being nominated for Best Picture and Best Actor Oscars; I predict DDL will win. I recommend the film with absolutely no reservation.

Oh, and now I've got a new tattoo to add to my wish list:

Monday, November 5, 2012

one last time for marriage equality

From my friend, Mark, on marriage equality and tomorrow's election: Like he said.
As tomorrow is voting day, understanding that neither candidate has the immediate fix to our financial situation and both are likely making false promises. Vote for the candidate that supports the Phrase: "Every man is created equal."

As you all know this past July, my partner and best friend of 12 years took his own life. After receiving the most disheartening letter of my entire life. I called the turnpike commission and the police to notify them of the incident that was taking place. The first call I was told "because he is a missing person, file a missing persons report".

The second call, I was told I would have to contact his "family" to have an answer.

I learned that Adam had passed from the PA Turnpike's website posted that there was an accident at the same mile marker he indicated he would be taking his life. Not knowing fully if he was dead, the police called me to ask for his parents phone number and address "IN CASE" they needed to notify someone. I was repeated asked if he was alive or dead, which I wasn't given an answer. As the minutes passed an officer came to my door and asked again for his parents address. I knew then, and I told them I would not tell them until they confirmed..

I was not family.

12 years, we owned a home together, cars, bank accounts, began an adoption process, survived the trials and tribulations that most couples do, but because of laws that promote discrimination, I was not allowed to know.

It is my wish that everyone is equal. That my partnership impacted no one else, nor impeded on anyone's right to live or practice their religion.

This is not a fake internet story. This is my story. Please vote for the candidate, vote for all candidates that promote being equal. You are no better than me, as I am not better than you.

Vote Obama at the polls this election day.
Like he said.

Friday, November 2, 2012

on Maryland's Question 6

I'm going to say this early, since Maryland has early voting.

This summer, my friend Adam committed suicide by walking into highway traffic. Mark, his partner of 12 years, received his goodbye email, and immediately notified highway patrol. As Mark called the police over and over in hopes that they'd found Adam in time, they refused to release any information to him, even though he'd alerted them - he wasn't "family." Mark finally learned that he had succeeded in taking his own life from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Web site, which reported the accident. As plans were made for a memorial service, Adam's mother listed her son's partner in the obituary - as his brother. And thankfully, Adam had secretly transferred his savings into their joint account, because Mark was not able to inherit it.

This is what the current law allows - for long-term, same-sex partners like my friend to be denied basic courtesies during what is already the most difficult time of his life. Is that something that you really support?

If your answer is no, vote YES on Question 6. Voting YES doesn't require you to change your religious beliefs or traditional values, only that you show a little compassion for your neighbors, regardless of whether they share your beliefs. That's a value as old as time itself.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

all saints' day

I last spoke to my grandmother a year ago today, to wish her a happy birthday. I didn't know she'd be gone within a few days, but I know I miss her every day.

Happy birthday, Grandma. I wish you were here.