Monday, February 23, 2009



[Thanks to a list of people] for taking on the challenge of telling this lifesaving story. When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life, it gave me the hope to, one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.

I want to thank my mom who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us thirty years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures who have value. And that no matter what anybody tells you, God does love you and that very soon you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.

Thank you. Thank you God for giving us Harvey Milk.


You commie, homo-loving sons of guns!

I did not expect this, and I want it to be very clear how hard I make it to appreciate me, often. But I am touched by the appreciation and I thought enough that I did want to scribble down so I have the names in case you are commie, homo-loving sons of guns. [Thanks a bunch of people, ending with] there is no finer hands to be in than Gus Van Sant.

Finally, for those--two last finallys--for those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue in that way of support.

We've got to have equal rights for everyone.

[Then shoutouts for electing "an elegant man President" and Mickey Rourke: "he is my brother."]

I remember something Sarah Dougher said onstage at the PDX Pop Fest in 2004, in the heat of Oregon's Measure 36 fight: "Gay people cannot get equal rights without the help of straight people."

Thanks for stepping up, Penn. And thanks, DLB, for the shout-out to your good mom (moms everywhere, listen up!) and that stellar parting line. Usually award winners thank God for their own success, as if he personally cast the overriding vote; I wish more people thought to thank him for Harvey Milk.

And guess what? You can behold the real deal himself in the superb 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk in its entirety, all 88 minutes, right here. It's stunning and moving. A must-see.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Snowshoeing with my brothers and a friend in the woods that surround the house, I spy red flecks in the snow. We tromp off the trail toward it and find a deer bed spotted with bright red blood. But here is the mystery: it snowed all night, but not since morning; the deer bed has only very recently been vacated, as evident in the freshness of the imprint and the surface-level of the bloodspotting; and yet there is no sign of the deer nor any tracks, human or animal, leading to or from the bed.

Despite our best clomping-around detective work, aided by Emmett's avid snowplowing nose, we can't figure it out. There is no explanation for what injured the deer or how it left or if it lived. Despite the evidence of warm, pulsing life--red blood and a bed just slept in--the thing itself is gone, and it's not for us to know.

Emmett chews on some bloodsicles. We shake the snow off our mittens and cut back to the trail to head down the hill.


A young deer--just past fawn, not yet recognizably buck or doe--appears in the driveway and stands in the pool of light from the garage light, which gleams extra-bright on the white snow. You can tell the deer is young because it walks right into the spotlight and gazes directly our way, no hesitation or trepidation. I've seen this before with baby skunks, baby woodchucks, baby mice--young animals will just sit there and look right back at you, stupidly, adorably bold.

The deer nonchalantly scratches its ear and looks around, and then it wanders casually back down the driveway. We are just a pack of humans standing out in the cold, bald bipeds, woefully underequipped, peering into the dark where it disappeared.


Horses impassively watch us cross-country ski by as snow gathers thickly on their backs. My feelings about horses are changing. I was obsessed with them as a girl: wrote novels about them, drew them obsessively, wore red cowboy boots, read Black Beauty over and over, even tended for a year a rotund black lazy mare who was the equine equivalent of my cat Seven. (For real.) Now I look at them and they seem less like my youthful fantasy of a long-lashed thousand-pound soulmate and more like very different souls altogether, which we saddle and ride with metal bits in their mouths. I wonder, what makes you happy? Do you like being ridden? You are approximately the tenth smartest animal--what do you think about? What do you think of us? Do you like us?

When I was ten or so, a crafty four-year-old Appaloosa mare pulled the inflating-belly trick, puffing up while we buckled on a riding pad, then exhaling so the strap was comfortably loose. I gave her a heel-kick, she broke into a trot, and the pad began to slip sideways with every bumpy step. I was quickly shaken loose like the pesky burr I must have been to her, deposited on the ground uninjured but stunned. In retrospect I can't really blame her.


A group of wild turkeys are wandering across the road on the outskirts of my small Ohio town, from woods side to farmhouse side. I slow to a stop and watch them cross the road, leisurely yet purposeful. They are so big, sturdy and pragmatic, modest dark feathers and discreetly rouged faces.

I think that in these times of belt-tightening and nuts-and-bolts, it would be appropriate to switch from the imperious bald eagle--that high-flying loner with a head as white as the founding fathers' wigs--to the modest wild turkey, a ground-dweller who prefers company and knows how to live on what it can find beneath its feet.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Listening to "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me" yesterday morning--a show I have actually attended live--I thought of how much I did indeed want Carl Kassel's mellifluous voice on my home answering machine.

Then watching the performance of "Homeland" in Cleveland later that evening, I upgraded to the absolutely unbeatable fantasy of having Laurie Anderson's voice on my home answering machine.