my Christmas playlist

I’ve always loved to make mix CDs. Now, as my daughter reminds me, I can make an iTunes mix playlist. Using my stack of holiday CDs and some songs I’ve downloaded, I’ve just compiled my ultimate Christmas listening selection:

  1. “Sleigh Ride” – Harry Connick, Jr.; When My Heart Finds Christmas
  2. “Rise Up, Shepherd and Follow” – Vanessa Williams; Silver and Gold
  3. “Love Came Down at Christmas” Shawn Colvin, Holiday Songs and Lullabies
  4. “I Saw Three Ships” – Cast of Miss Saigon; Carols for a Cure, 1999
  5. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” – Harry Connick, Jr.; When My Heart Finds Christmas
  6. “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” – Nancy Wilson; Williams-Sonoma, Jingle Bell Jazz
  7. “Silver and Gold” – Vanessa Williams; Silver and Gold
  8. “Little Road to Bethlehem” – Shawn Colvin, Holiday Songs and Lullabies
  9. “O Come All Ye Faithful” – Amy Grant; The Christmas Collection
  10. “Mary’s Little Boy Child” – Vanessa Williams; Silver and Gold
  11. “I Wonder as I Wander” – Cast of Swing; Carols for a Cure, 1999
  12. “Joy to the World” – Vanessa Williams; Silver and Gold
  13. “Winter Wonderland” – Peggy Lee; Williams-Sonoma, Jingle Bell Jazz
  14. “The Little Drummer Boy” – Vanessa Williams; Silver and Gold
  15. “In the Bleak Mid-Winter” – Shawn Colvin, Holiday Songs and Lullabies
  16. “I Pray on Christmas” – Harry Connick, Jr.; When My Heart Finds Christmas

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an abundance of unkindness

Last night at dinner, my kids were talking about school and some of their teachers. My son said, “Mr. Jock [not his real name] keeps doing something really annoying.”

And what might that be?

“When two guys are wrestling around in the hall or something, Mr. Jock will ask them if they’re going out. Or he’ll call them girls — like, ‘Girls, are you coming to class?'”

Mr. Jock apparently makes such comments fairly often. Homophobic words litter his everyday speech.

His — and a lot of other people’s.

Teenagers have taken to using the word “gay” as slang for something stupid or ridiculous. Don’t like a movie? “It was really gay!” Think a kid at school is doing something goofy? “He’s so gay!”

I can fix that behavior within the confines of my house. My daughter’s ex-boyfriend learned to eliminate the negative “gay” figure of speech pretty quickly. Now we’re working on the new boyfriend.

But I can’t fix the behavior of my son’s teachers, and the other students, and all the people he’ll encounter for the rest of his life, who will speak and behave in ways that are bigoted and hurtful. Many of them will do so unconsciously, reflecting the way they were raised and taught. Others will do so very much on purpose.

And we live in relatively enlightened times! I’m frightened enough for my son as he faces the rest of his teen years and then adulthood. What must it have been like for parents of GBLT youth 20 years ago, or 50? It gives me some slight inkling of what it must be like to parent a child who’s a member of racial minority, even today. How did mothers and fathers bear to let their children leave the house in the days before Civil Rights brought at least partial sanity to our society?

For our gay youth, there is still very little sanity in the United States. Hate speech of the kind that is no longer tolerated when it refers to skin color is commonplace when it refers to sexuality. GBLT people can’t talk openly about their relationships or hold hands with their partners on public streets without risking verbal or physical violence. Prop 8 and similar laws around the country remind them that regardless of the strength of their love, many people consider their relationships “wrong” and unworthy of cementing with a marital bond (unless, like some dear friends of ours plan to do over Christmas, they travel to one of the few enlightened places that allow gays and lesbians to wed).

I love my son more than I can possibly express. I want to be able to ensure that his every moment is filled with happiness, love, and sunshine. But I can’t. I’m helpless even to ensure him a hate-free environment at school — we decided that it’s better not to try to address Mr. Jock’s behavior, lest fallout come back on my son; and my daughter has warned her brother that although the high school he’ll attend next year is a relatively GBLT-friendly environment, he’ll face plenty of unthinking insensitivity there, too.

All parents want their children to experience the very best that life has to offer. In the United States, all parents want to tell their children that they live in the land of equality and freedom. But some of us have to tell our children that as much as we love them, and as great as our country is, life for them will not be equal and free; instead they’ll encounter venom and hatred and disgust, not because of who they are but because of who they love.

No mother should have to say that to her son. It isn’t fair to either of us. And it makes me very, very angry.

comfort food: blonde brownies

Butter, brown sugar, white chocolate … what’s not to like? These bars are dense, chewy, extremely rich, and always a hit.

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1-1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs, at room temperature (put them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes)
2-1/4 cups flour
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 13″x9″ baking pan, or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and vanilla at medium speed until light and fluffy (2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined.

Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture, and mix on low speed until combined. Stir in chipe.

Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool before cutting.

If you prefer, you can use any other flavor of chip rather than white chocolate. You can also add 1 cup of chopped macadamia nuts (or other nuts).

blogging the election results

(Image courtesy of Daily Kos.) I am nearly speechless with happiness, relief, and joy that our country will be headed back in the right direction after 8 years of darkness. What a marvelous night. I am thrilled that my children have shared with us the celebration of this historic election.

11:00

Networks are calling it for Obama. He has won Florida, California, and many more. The crowds in Chicago are going wild. I’ve never seen anything like it.

10:52

Obama is AHEAD in INDIANA!

10:48

Just heard that McCain will speak at 11:00. Obama now needs only California to be over 270, so mathematically it is OVER.

10:45

Obama wins Virginia!

10:30

Why in the world is it taking Lake County so long to count their votes? The margin is so close that they’ll have to wait until everything is in before they call the state. INcredible.

There are many strange-looking pundits. Lots of bald guys, and guys with strangely shiny helmet hair, and women wearing inexplicable outfits.

10:15

Looking awfully secure right now. Winning Virginia, still so close in Indiana. Maybe I’ll get some sleep tonight after all.

9:55

Hey hey hey, he’s pulled within 7,000 votes in Indiana as Lake and Marion counties come in!

9:50

Wow, fivethirtyeight.com has called the race for Obama. And Obama is up in Virginia. And still up in Florida. And North Carolina. Ohmygosh this dream could really come true…

9:40

NBC has some chick in black with high-heeled boots walking around what appears to be the Enterprise’s holodeck, as graphics and charts spring up around her. Bizarre.

9:25

Starting to feel cautiously hopeful. I’d so love to see Obama win Florida…

8:45

Daily Kos is reading my mind. I’ve been fretting about McCain’s current large lead in Virginia, and Daily Kos says “don’t fret about Virginia … everything is cool” because the large urban counties aren’t in yet. Here’s hoping. And I’m loving Obama’s lead in Florida.

8:25

Anne Northup has conceded to John Yarmuth.

8:05

I’m really confused by the way the networks keep calling states with 0% reported. Doug says it’s because they have people on the ground reporting in from precincts. But it’s confusing when, for example, the online maps are showing Obama ahead in South Carolina at this point, and yet the state has been called for McCain. It would help me if more explanation was available for why they’re making the calls.

7:55

My fingers are going to get sore from clicking between Political Dashboard‘s map, which seems to be the more accurately and quickly updated; FiveThirtyEight.com, which isn’t keeping up with things the way I expected; and Daily Kos’s map, which lets you zoom in on individual counties. Indiana is very close, with the big Obama zones not yet in.

7:25

McCain is currently up in early results in Indiana, Virginia, and Florida. My stomach hurts. If he wins all of them it will be a very long night.

7:15

I think it’s silly that everyone has called Vermont for Obama when 0% of the state’s votes have been reported. Sure, it’s a certainty, but they could at least wait for the first tallies to come in. Meanwhile, the Indiana lead is bouncing back and forth as results arrive, and it looks like it will be very close.

7:00

It’s exciting to hear Indiana repeatedly referred to as a key state; a battleground state; and even “the ground zero of this election.” After so many years of knowing my vote for president would mean nothing, this year it finally counts.

6:40

The ABC guys are writing poll-closing times on kind of a big electronic white board U.S. map, with a funky marker. It looks silly and low-tech. What, they can’t afford a computer graphic that shows all the closing times?

6:30 p.m.

Locally, Democratic Congressmen Baron Hill (IN) and John Yarmuth (KY) are showing unexpectedly strong leads against their Republican opponents in the early results. Here’s hoping it’s a sign of things to come.

6:20 p.m.

It’s finally here. My stomach is upset. I’ve been unable to focus on anything all day. And now the polls are starting to close, and there’s nothing to do but wait. A bit of good news to begin the evening: at the precinct where Doug was poll watching all day, Obama won 49% to 45.7%. For our little part of southern Indiana, that’s a big deal.

Eagleburger: could Palin do the top job? “Of course not.”

Thursday, on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger (who has endorsed John McCain) was asked to make the case for McCain “on the basis of foreign and domestic policy credentials.” He did a great job of selling McCain — until he was asked whether Sarah Palin would be able to step into the role of president during a time of crisis.

His answer, as transcribed on Huffington Post:

“It is a very good question,” he said, pausing a few seconds, then adding with a chuckle: “I’m being facetious here. Look, of course not.”

Eagleburger explained: “I don’t think at the moment she is prepared to take over the reigns of the presidency. I can name for you any number of other vice presidents who were not particularly up to it either. So the question, I think, is can she learn and would she be tough enough under the circumstances if she were asked to become president, heaven forbid that that ever takes place?

“Give her some time in the office and I think the answer would be, she will be [pause] adequate. I can’t say that she would be a genius in the job. But I think she would be enough to get us through a four year… well I hope not… get us through whatever period of time was necessary. And I devoutly hope that it would never be tested.”

To listen to the interview, click here: NPR interview with Lawrence Eagleburger

the vet didn’t vet — let’s not end up with regret

Saw this courtesy of my friend Jack.

As the video says, “It hasn’t happened yet…” Let’s make sure it doesn’t. If your state will let you vote early, do it today. And if you have an hour (or 5, or 10) to spare, head to your local campaign office and make some calls or knock on some doors.

Help make sure that next Tuesday, the result is one America won’t regret.

kids, don’t let your parents vote Republican

MoveOn has released a marvelous new Obama ad. As described on Huffington Post:

The spot, part of MoveOn’s Youth Vote program, attempts to harness the cultural reach of Gossip Girl, the much-beloved (and oft-spoofed) CW hit about over-privileged New York highschoolers. Featuring some of the show’s actors…, it is a satirical play on the drug prevention spots that occupy a memorable place in television lore. Only this time around, the message is a bit more political:

“Talk to your parents about John McCain,” says one narrator.For my sake? Please?

Vote for Barack Obama.

Before it’s too late.