No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

What Was Your Thanksgiving Present?

I never knew I could juggle! Jiggle, sure, but juggle? Well, with this blog, the art blog, the poetry blog, the recipe blog AND the This is La Vergne blog (which has been neglected by me recently, sorry Lavergnians) I've actually done a bit of a juggling act. One day I hope to combine it all into one place. But for now, I like keeping them separated. A place for everything and everything in its place. Ha! Not exactly, but along those lines.
All of that to say there's another new poem.

I've told you how wonderful my mother in law is, right? I mean, who gets Thanksgiving presents? We do! Why, you may ask? Because we couldn't be home with them for Thanksgiving, and they wanted us to know they were thinking of us! We received a box in the mail on Tuesday and Wifester and I tore into it like kids at Christmas, only to find individually wrapped gifts and a note that said "Do not open these until Thanksgiving!"
With a sigh of disappointment we set the box aside and began guessing what could possibly be Thanksgiving gifts!?
On Thursday, after the carcass, formerly known as a turkey was in the oven and I was at that point where I could relax a bit, we embarked on opening our Turkey Day gifts from Wifester's Mom and step Dad. The Wifester got cool book "Strange but True: 100 of The World's Weirdest Wonders, Mysteries Solved. Hoaxes Revealed."
And I received several pads of palette paper, which is waxy sheets that you can squeeze paints on and use as disposable palettes! I also got a super cute notebook with a sweet note from Mom inside telling me that it is for poems I write on the go. Then it said that Emily Dickinson wrote 1700 poems and only 7 were published in her lifetime and to keep penning! How very, very, very sweet and thoughtful! So the first poem I wrote in it is here.
What did you get for Thanksgiving?


You tease and play
always a jester
While the aroma of
Home, long ago,
fills each room
by one...

I looked at you
Standing in the kitchen
and I knew
I would always love
Your smile
Your laugh
Your touch...

Gratitude runs thick
like cold, raw oil
And I'm most grateful
to have you
in my life.

Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ok, ok, so that wasn't my turkey with the bikini lines. I know you were wondering. (I ripped that photo from another blog, see the caption under it to find it's origins.)
Here's my real bird.

Our dinner was wonderful, we had good company, and a beautiful day. Good food, good friends, good weather...what better turkey day could we ask for?
How was yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Religion on Steroids

The phone ring, ring, rings,

and I ignore the incessant tone

of Patriarchy submerged in Zealotry:

Religion on steroids, I muse

Closing my eyes, I imagine ignorance

Feeling its warm embrace

for too brief a moment...

In a flash, its gone with the ring, ring, ring

of technology's death to privacy

Bringing me back again

To the persistant realization

that you are no longer the parents

I once knew.

Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Poetry and Cake

I have a new poem, check it out at my Poetry Blog...

and I posted a new recipe at my Cooking Blog

And did I tell you what I did last night? On Thanksgiving Eve-Eve? I bumped into the baker's rack and caused some random objects to crash to the floor, among them was one casualty, only one. BUT... it was my handy chopper! MY HANDY CHOPPER!
Two days before Thanksgiving, I kill my handy chopper! OY VEY!
Guess who'll be hand dicing a ton of celery, onions, carrots, and everything else?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Marilyn Monroe

By Angela Schleicher acrylic/mixed media

Marilyn on My Mind

I woke up this morning with an image of Norma Jean-buxom and beautiful, laughing and teasing the camera, eyes closed in ecstasy with the joy of the moment-perfectly framed in my mind. I dreamed last night that I was painting her. Wifester checked in from the bedroom asking "Whatcha doing there, love?" to which I replied "reviving Marilyn, dear."
It was simple, and matter of fact, just like that, and that's how I woke up.
I knew as soon as my eyes opened what had to be done.
I set out to accomplish my mission, it's Sunday, I've finished my paper for school, and I've completed my tests for the week, today is mine all mine.
I brewed my second favorite nectar of life. Gevalia French Vanilla coffee. Second only to Gevalia's Mocha Java. I turned on some mood music. To evoke the right feeling, the proper mood, I listened to Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr., and Dean Martin.
I gathered up my paints, brushes, glue, and newspaper, and I created this:

You can visit more photos of Marilyn at my art blog, here

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Should Marriage Be Redefined?

An essay by Fortune Cookies

The one constant in the definition of marriage is simply the joining of two entities to become a combined unit. In requiring marriage to be contingent upon the parties meeting certain gender specifications, the definition is then changed to suit an agenda.

Should Marriage be Redefined?

Are gays and lesbians asking for marriage to be redefined, or are conservatives calling for a redefinition by adding gender stipulations to its constitutional definition? According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the definition of marriage is varied, and includes the following:

  1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  2. The state of being married; wedlock.
  3. A union between two persons: same-sex marriage.
  4. A close union: "the most successful marriage of beauty and blood in mainstream comics" (Lloyd Rose).

(American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 2000)
Clearly, this dictionary does not stipulate that marriage is only applicable when the two parties are of opposite gender. Dictionaries will vary in their definitions as will personal interpretations. However, the one inference that repeats is "to unite in a close, usually permanent way. " (Webster's Dictionary, 2008, American Heritage Dictionary, 2000, Oxford Online Dictionary, 2008) Therefore, the most logical conclusion to reach is that people who demand a constitutional amendment to define marriage as "one man and one woman," are redefining the word for everyone.

There are many arguments against gay marriage. Here, we will discuss the most prevalent and popular claims against marriage for same sex couples and examine the fallacies behind them. The primary call to action against same sex marriage is the proposition that marriage should be defined as "one man, one woman." Does justice not demand that if the straight community can not show a compelling reason to deny
the institution of marriage to gay people, it should not be denied? (Eskridge, 1996) Such nebulous declarations, without any solid moral argument behind them, are hardly compelling reasons. They seem to be more of an expression of prejudice than any kind of real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless there is a proven, compelling reason to deny them is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights.

It is well documented in American history that African American slaves who married were not married "Until death do us part, "rather, "Until death or distance do us part…" (Racha- Penrice, 2007)The American government did not recognize such unions, and allowed slave owners to sell a husband to one man and his wife to another. Families were torn apart at the auction block day after day. Not until after the Civil War, when marriage was redefined, were blacks allowed the right to legally marry in the United States. Thus began the fear based, ideological campaign to protect the white race from marriage to other races. A flurry of states passed laws to outlaw interracial marriages, and some states even banned interracial intercourse. (Racha- Penrice, 2007)

Similar bans, already in existence throughout the United States, did nothing to slow the growing fears of racial mixing. From the late nineteenth century and throughout the early twentieth century, fourteen states, primarily in the West, extended the ban to include marriages between whites and Asians. Twelve states extended these segregationist prohibitions to include marriages between whites and American Indians. By 1913, forty one states or territories had enacted such laws, and had included in them, a prohibition of couples from leaving their home states to travel to other states that did not have such marriage bans. (Zinn, 2005)

In the mid-twentieth century, the tide began to turn against race-based marriage bans. Nazi laws forbidding Jews from marrying non-Jews were discredited along with many other expressions of state racism. The General Assembly of the United Nations unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, which cited the "right to marry" as one of the fundamental rights of humankind. (U.N. General Assembly, 1948)

Nineteen years later, in 1967, the historic Supreme Court decision was made in the case of Loving v. Virginia. It proclaimed that the ban on interracial marriage was "designed to maintain White Supremacy" and therefore, unconstitutional. In denying the right to marry the person of one's choice, the fundamental civil right to marriage had been denied. Later, the Court even extended the right of marriage to prisoners, citing the civil right as one that could not be denied to any person. (U.S. Supreme Court, 1967)

Still, the argument is often made that same sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage. This is a contradiction, in and of itself. Allowing people to commit themselves to each other regardless of gender, is not a threat to marriage. When homosexuals are allowed to marry, they are less likely to attempt heterosexual marriage first, just to fit in with society's norm, causing them to be matched with an incompatible partner and possibly raising children in a loveless home, only to end in divorce. Further, studies have shown that children of divorce are more likely to have failed marriages themselves. (Sterkle, 1987) Denying gays the right to marriage contributes to the divorce rate, rather than protecting the institution of marriage.

Gay marriage has been legal in Denmark since 1989. A proposal now exists in the Danish parliament to allow adoption rights and church weddings, which are currently prohibited. Most other Scandinavian countries have followed suit.

Full marriage rights have existed in many Dutch cities for several years, and was recently made legal nationwide, including the word "marriage" to describe such unions. Opposition to the Danish law was led by the clergy, much the same as in the United States. A survey conducted at the time revealed that 72 % of Danish clergy were opposed to the law. (Graff, 1996) It was passed anyway, and the change in the attitude of the clergy there has been dramatic, a survey conducted in 1995 indicated that 89 % of the Danish clergy now admit that the law is a good one and that it had many beneficial effects. Some of which include reductions in suicide, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, and in promiscuity and infidelity among gays. (Kendall, 2007) Far from leading to the destruction of western civilization, as some critics have warned, the result of gay marriage in Scandinavia has actually been civilizing and strengthening, not just to the institution of marriage, but to society as a whole.

The argument that marriage is a sacred institution is biased in design and based on the assumption that the state has the responsibility to "sanctify" marriages - a fundamentally religious idea. This is an example of one set of people trying to enforce their religious doctrines upon others. In this instance, it is an attempt to do so through weakening the separation of church and state, by undermining the Bill of Rights. (Sullivan, 2008) Although this is not a new concept in American politics, the attempt itself opposes the foundations, the very fiber of the First Amendment - one does not truly have freedom of religion if one does not have the right to freedom from religion as well. The only marriage affected by two people marrying, is the marriage being entered into by the two people marrying each other.

Historically speaking, the word marriage originally identified a merger between two families. It was a type of trade. Essentially, marriage identified the barter of one man's daughter, in exchange for another man's livestock, crops, or other valuables. It could be argued that marriage was already redefined by churches, to be a sanctimonious event, and again redefined, by corporations to indicate a merger of businesses. It was certainly redefined in the Post Civil War era, in order to grant former slaves their fundamental civil right to marry and be happy. Once again, in the 1960's, the definition was changed to allow persons of differing races the right to marry each other. Without this word's definition periodically being altered throughout our history, our current president elect, Barack Obama's mother and father would not have been allowed to marry. In many states, his mere conception would have been illegal, with a penalty of felony charges stemming in a sentence of one to five years imprisonment.
There are many who argue that allowing same-sex marriage would create an environment in which churches would be required to perform ceremonies for same sex couples against their religious beliefs. This simply is not true. Today churches already have the right to refuse marriage to any couple, for any reason. They can deny marriage to a couple because of a large age disparity, a difference in religious backgrounds, or even for being of different races. There is nothing in any marriage law, existing or proposed, that does or would have the effect of requiring any church to marry any couple they do not wish to marry. Couples would continue to do as they always have: they get married by a Justice of the Peace, in a Mayor's Court, or have a family member or friend who has obtained a license from the state marry them. Same sex couples are simply asking for the same opportunity.

To many people, the word marriage connotes various ideas that are not readily identified in a dictionary. The church sanctions a holy matrimony, while the courts legalize a civil matrimony. Corporations marry each other when entering a merger, to form a larger, more formidable business. The joining of two parties to become one, to be better together, to help each other, and to stay together permanently, is the core meaning of marriage. This basic human right has been sought after in civilization for centuries.

Denying homosexuals the right to marry deprives them of thousands of legal rights that married heterosexual couples freely enjoy. (Kendell, 2007) Among these rights, at the state level are hospital visitation, control of burial and funeral arrangements for a partner, inheritance rights and insurance benefits, just to name a few. At the federal level alone, the General Accounting Office has identified over one thousand provisions that heterosexual married couples enjoy, including social security benefits and federal tax exemptions, that would be granted to same-sex couples if they were allowed marriage.

Our government was set up as an institution whose goal is the preservation of the rights of its citizens. By upholding the ideological or philosophical prejudices of one group, our government is failing to protect another group's basic human rights. Rights which are defined by the United Nations' Declaration of Human Rights as well as the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. It proclaims, "…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Is marriage being redefined? Yes, and it matters more today than ever before. There exists a precedent of redefining marriage throughout human history, without which many of today's marriages would be null and void in earlier contexts.

As humans inhabiting an ever changing world, we too must adapt. An engineer will say that the bridge that does not bend with the wind is destined to crumble and fall. So too, it goes with ideologies. Our founding fathers defined our country as a place where all men were created equal, and endowed with an unalienable right to the pursuit of happiness. It is an infringement upon this very pursuit, if two consenting adults are denied the right to marry. The arguments supporting gay marriage outweigh the negatives. Strong family units strengthen society. Tolerance for differences diffuses strife and fosters a closer knit community. Church and state separation do not preclude working relationships between the two. The realization that we are all human, all one race and one world brings us to the conclusion that we can all live together in empathy, peace, and with our chosen partner in marriage.


Columbia Law Review, April 1999. [Social Norms and Judicial Decision-making: Examining the Role of Narratives in Same-Sex Adoption Cases. Lexis-Nexis 3/27/01]

Eskridge, William Jr, The Case for Same-Sex Marriage, ( 1996). p. 96 The Free Press, New York

Graff , E.J. What is Marriage For?, 1996. [The Challenge of Same-Sex Marriage, Praeger Publishers, Connecticut 1999 p175]

Kendell, Kate. "The Right to Marry, the San Francisco Experience, and Lessons

Learned." In Defending Same-Sex Marriage, volume 1, "Separate Bu Equal" No

More, edited by Mark Strasser. West Port, CT: British Library Cataloguing, 2007.

"Marriage." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. Retrieved from downloaded 10/02/2008

Meyer, Cheryl L.; "Legal, Psychological, and Medical Considerations in Lesbian Parenting," 2 Law & Sexuality: A Review of Lesbian & Gay Legal Issues 237 (1992)

Penrice, Ronda Racha (2007), African American History for Dummies, pp. 207-218. For Dummies, 2007

Sterkel, Alisa; "Psychosocial Develpment of Children of Lesbian Mothers," Gay & Lesbian Parents 75, 81 (Frederick W. Bozett, ed., 1987)

Sullivan, Andrew. The New Republic, 5/8/00. ["Why 'civil union' isn't marriage." downloaded 10/02/08]

U.S. Supreme Court, LOVING v. VIRGINIA, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), retrieved from , downloaded 11/10/2008

United Nations General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, internet source, retrieved from , downloaded 11/02/2008

Zinn, Howard.(2005) A People's History of the United States 1492-Present pp 171-190. New

York: Perennial, 2005.

Thursday, November 20, 2008



read this if you dare...

And you know whats truly disturbing about it? I mean, aside from the bestiality, and believe me, that is a majorly disturbing issue's the fact that even while he's in prison, this guy will have the right to get married, if he so chooses, to a woman should one be willing to marry him, yet Wifester and I still can't! That sick bastard gets more protection under the laws of our government than either of us two law abiding, tax paying, upstanding citizens.

I'm ready to vomit now.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gay or Straight, Black or White - Marriage is A Civil Right!

photo by Wifester

The Wifester and I had a blast hanging out with fellow homos, fighting for our rights. The crowd was about 50/50 gay/straight. The ratio was nice and provided a rather eclectic group.
We were on the news and we were interviewed by the adorable and sweet Joey Leslie, of Out and About Newspaper, Nashville's gay news source.
And he took this wonderfuly sweet photo of us:

Photo by Joey Lewis, of Out and About Newspaper

It was chilly cold, and a bit rainy, but that didn't dampen our spirits! We marched around in front of the courthouse, chanting "What do we want? Equality! When do we want it? NOW!"

photo by Wifester

And then everyone decided to take it to the street, so we headed down to the curb side. We were greeted by honking horns, cheers, thumbs up and one homeless guy with a finger up, alright, but it wasn't the thumb. In fact, he was the one and only representative of any opposition. He went so far as to make a gesture that I suppose was his impression of Rambo, with a semi-automatic weapon let loose on us. But he staggered on down the road and finally left us alone when he realized that no one would engage his antics.
Some speakers spoke, some people shared their stories and experiences, and I felt proud to be part of a community that comes together like we do, even in the funky, windy, wet, cold weather like yesterday.
All in all there was about 200 people, or more. A good turnout for Nashville, and bad weather.
Here's a pretty cool video that Val, from Avalon Farmblog made.

I love being an activist! Wifester even got into it, I think I can get her to do some more of these.

Oh, in case you don't know, to all my fellow gays, December 10 will be A Day Without the Gays!

On December 10, 2008 the gay community will take a historic stance against hatred by calling in Gay, to work, and donating love, time, and energy to a variety of different causes. You are encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in "gay"--and donate your time to service!

December 10, 2008 is International Human Rights Day. CLICK HERE to join the effort, and search or add to the list of human rights organizations that need our help RIGHT NOW.

That's some community action I can really get with.

Friday, November 14, 2008

New Poem And a Reminder

it's called Bigotry's Great Divide please stop by and check it out, tell me what you think, but as the great Erykah Badu once said keep in mind, I'm an artist, and I'm sensitive about my shit! :)


It will occur across the country simultaneously.


Bigotry's Great Divide

Standing at the precipice of bigotry's great divide
I watch history unfold before me
Tears drown my eyes

No tears of joy for me this day
No Hollywood sunset to end this play
Do not be fooled by the hoopla
I say

For I have seen the Great Farce of a country swollen with pride
My fellow citizens chant "Liberty and Justice for All"
But the pertinent information
That always gets pushed aside
Is this"All" only applies
If you so happen subscribe
To a particular set of ideas, principals, and lies

Do not be fooled by this color blind election
I say
Because today, as much as yesterday
Hate lives in America
Hate breeds in her belly
His attention having shifted
From the color of our skin
To the choice of our mate
And I say
What worse way to hate
Than to stifle love?

Angela J. Schleicher © 2008

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Epilepsy Awareness Month

Betcha didn't know it, but November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. That's why I'm wearing the purple ribbon. See it up there?
I was diagnosed with epilepsy in my early 20's and since then, life has been a roller coaster ride of finding a medication that controls my seizures without turning me into, well, one of these

I've had some pretty costly medical expenses, ambulance bills, hospital stays,
EEGs, CT scans, MRIs, you name it, they've done it to me. I even once had probes inserted into my jaws, just below my brain, so they could monitor my brainwaves in the temporal lobes, where my seizures seem to reside. All to find out that I am not a candidate for the surgery that many find relieves them from most of their seizures. So here I am, balancing medications, with cognitive functions. Balancing what I can do, with what I'm restricted from doing. Much like so many others out there with epilepsy. I'm not complaining. I'm just happy that today epilepsy is seen as the disease it is, rather than psychosis, mental retardation, or even demonic possession as it was in years past.

Did you know that the earliest references to epilepsy date back to the fifth millennium B.C. in Mesopotamia? That's a few years before Sarah
Palin believes that the earth was even created. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Priests unsuccessfully tried to cure people with epilepsy by exercising the "demons" out of them. Atreya of India and later Hippocrates, both of whom recognized a seizure as a dysfunction of the brain, challenged this absurdity of superstitious thought surrounding epilepsy. But the superstitions surrounding epilepsy continued for hundreds of years.

I actually feel a bit honored to be amongst a rather commendable group of other epileptics. You see, epileptic seizures historically, have suggested a relationship with creativity or unusual leadership abilities. Scholars have long studied evidence that prominent prophets and other holy men, political leaders, philosophers, artists and scientists, suffered from epilepsy.
According to, Aristotle was apparently the first to connect epilepsy and genius.

His catalog of "great epileptics" (which included Socrates) was added to during the Renaissance. Only people from Western culture were included, however. So strong was this tradition that even in the nineteenth century, when new names of "great epileptics" were added, they were rarely chosen from among people in other parts of the world. Working from this biased historical legacy, the famous people with epilepsy that we know about are primarily white males.

LaPlante in her book Seized writes that the abnormal brain activity found in temporal lobe (complex partial) epilepsy plays a role in creative thinking and the making of art. Neuropsychologist Dr. Paul Spiers says:

"Sometimes the same things that cause epilepsy result in giftedness. If you damage an area [of the brain] early enough in life, the corresponding area on the other side has a chance to overdevelop."

We know that epilepsy involves temporary bursts of excessive electrical activity in different locations in the brain, locations which house our bodily sensations and functions as well as our memories and emotions. Psychiatrist Dr. David Bear states that the abnormal brain activity found in temporal lobe epilepsy can play a role in creative thinking and the making of art by uniting sensitivity, insight and sustained, critical attention. According to Dr. Bear:

"A temporal lobe focus in the superior individual may spark an extraordinary search for that entity we alternately call truth or beauty."

What is also clear in the discussion of genius and epilepsy is that some of the most famous people in history had seizures. People with epilepsy have excelled in every area.
The list of famous authors and playwrights whom historians believe had epilepsy is a bit overwhelming. It includes: Dante, the author of The Divine Comedy, who is not only Italy's pre-eminent poet but one of the towering figures of Western literature; Moliere, the master comic dramatist of the eighteenth century whose plays Tartuffe, The Imaginary Invalid and The Misanthrope are still being regularly performed today; Sir Walter Scott, one of the foremost literary figures of the romantic period whose books like Ivanhoe and Waverley remain widely read classics; the 18th century English satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels; the nineteenth century American author Edgar Allan Poe; as well as three of the greatest English Romantic poets, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

Charles Dickens, the Victorian author of such classic books as A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist had epilepsy, as did several of the characters in his books. The medical accuracy of Dickens's descriptions of epilepsy has amazed the doctors who read him today.

Lewis Carroll, in his famous stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, was probably writing about his own temporal lobe seizures. The very sensation initiating Alice' adventures- that of falling down a hole- is a familiar one to many people with seizures. Alice often feels that her own body (or the objects around her) is shrinking or growing before her eyes, another seizure symptom. Carroll recorded his seizures, which were followed by prolonged headaches and feeling not his usual self, in his journal.

From his writings we know a lot about the epilepsy of the great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, author of such classics as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, who is considered by many to have brought the Western novel to the peak of its possibilities.

Dostoevsky had his first seizure at age nine. After a remission which lasted up to age 25, he had seizures every few days or months, fluctuating between good and bad periods. His ecstatic auras occurring seconds before his bigger seizures were moments of transcendent happiness, which then changed to an anguished feeling of dread. He saw a blinding flash of light, then would cry out and lose consciousness for a second or two. Sometimes the epileptic discharge generalized across his brain, producing a secondary tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure. Afterward he could not recall events and conversations that had occurred during the seizure, and he often felt depressed, guilty and irritable for days. Epilepsy is a central source of themes, personalities, and events in his books; he gave epilepsy to about 30 of his characters.

The other great nineteenth century Russian author, Count Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, also had epilepsy.

Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia about 2,300 years ago and one of the greatest generals in history, had epilepsy. At the time epilepsy was known as "the sacred disease" because of the belief that those who had seizures were possessed by evil spirits or touched by the gods and should be treated by invoking mystical powers.

Julius Caesar, another brilliant general and formidable politician, had seizures in the last two years of his life, possibly caused by a brain tumour. Caesar was known to have fallen convulsing into the River Tiber. By this time, epilepsy had become known as "the falling sickness" because the kind of seizures that made a person lose consciousness and fall down were the only kind then recognized as epilepsy. (Complex partial seizures were not recognized until the middle of the nineteenth century.) Human blood was widely regarded by the Romans as having curative powers, and people with epilepsy in Caesar's time were commonly seen sucking blood from fallen gladiators.
Napoleon Bonaparte was probably the most brilliant military figure in history. He too is known to have had epilepsy.

Another extraordinary leader of a very different time and place was Harriet Tubman, the black woman with epilepsy who led hundreds of her fellow slaves from the American South to freedom in Canada on the Underground Railroad. Tubman developed her seizure disorder through sustaining a head injury: her slave master hit her in the head with a rock.

Saint Paul's seizure-like experiences are the best documented of the major religious figures. On the road to Damascus he saw a bright light flashing around him, fell to the ground and was left temporarily blinded by his vision and unable to eat or drink. Paul is thought by some physicians to have had facial motor and sensitive disturbances coming after ecstatic seizures; they have diagnosed him with temporal lobe epilepsy which occasionally developed into secondary tonic-
clonic attacks.

Joan of Arc was an uneducated farmer's daughter in a remote village of medieval France who altered the course of history through her amazing military victories. From age thirteen Joan reported ecstatic moments in which she saw flashes of light coming from the side, heard voices of saints and saw visions of angels.

In the opinion of the neurologist Dr. Lydia Bayne, Joan's blissful experiences "in which she felt that the secrets of the universe were about to be revealed to her"- were seizures, and they were triggered by the ringing of church bells. Joan displayed symptoms of a temporal lobe focus epilepsy: specifically, a musicogenic form of reflex epilepsy with an ecstatic aura. Musicogenic epilepsy is generally triggered by particular music which has an emotional significance to the individual. Joan's voices and visions propelled her to become an heroic soldier in the effort to save France from English domination and led to her martyrdom in 1431, burned at the stake as a heretic when she was 19 years old.

Soren Kierkegaard, the brilliant Danish philosopher and religious thinker considered to be the father of existentialism, worked hard at keeping his epilepsy secret.

In the fine arts, Vincent van Gogh is today probably the most widely known and appreciated artist with epilepsy. "The storm within" was how van Gogh described his typical seizure, which consisted of hallucinations, unprovoked feelings of anger, confusion and fear, and floods of early memories that disturbed him because they were outside his control.

Van Gogh also had convulsive seizures; a hospital worker witnessed Vincent having one while painting outside. He was prescribed potassium bromide as an anticonvulsant and ordered to spend countless hours bathing in tubs at the asylum in Saint-Remy. His most troubling seizures peaked with his greatest art in the south of France, where he painted A Starry Night, the extraordinary Self-Portrait, and the famous Crows in the Wheatfields.

There have been a number of prominent composers and musicians with epilepsy. George Frederick Handel, the famous baroque composer of the Messiah, is one. Niccolo Paganini is another. Paganini was an Italian violinist and composer considered by many to be the greatest violinist of all time. The eminent Russian composer of the ballets Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker, Peter Tchaikovsky, is believed to have had epilepsy. Ludwig van Beethoven, one of the greatest masters of music, may have had epilepsy as well.

Modern writers who had epilepsy include: Dame Agatha Christie, the leading British writer of mystery novels, and Truman Capote, American author of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Modern actors with epilepsy include Richard Burton, Michael Wilding, Margaux Hemingway and Danny Glover.

On second thought, boy oh boy, that sure puts the pressure on me to be brilliant. Oh well, I can be one of the not so fabulous epileptics that achieved mediocrity in full force.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I'll Be Looking for You!

"We cannot accept the view that Amendment 2's prohibition on specific legal protections does no more than deprive homosexuals of special rights. To the contrary, the amendment imposes a special disability on those persons alone. Homosexuals are forbidden the safeguards that others enjoy or may seek without constraint"
        -Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in the decision overturning Colorado's Amendment 2 referendum

So keeping with the theme of my outrage over the same sex marriage issue, I wanted to let you know about a Marriage Equality Rally that will be happening this Saturday, in front of the Metro Courthouse, downtown at 12:30. So far, local organizations supporting marriage equality and equal rights include:
-Lipstick Lounge
-Hustler on Church st
-TN Equality Project
-Americans United for Seperation of Church and State

for more info about the Rally, click here.

I am hoping to gather up some more support and some more bodies to stand in solidarity with us to tell our government that marriage is a right, and to prevent people who love each other that right is standing in the way of their pursuit of happiness.

The Arguments:

Marriage is an institution between one man and one woman.
UGH! This is the most often heard argument, and the one that is getting the states' constitutions re-written to re-define marriage as one man, one woman. But as I am exploring in my research paper, Who says what marriage is and by whom it is to be defined? The married? The marriable? Webster's Dictionary? As one essay I recently read on gay marriage said, " Isn't that kind of like allowing a banker to decide who is going to own the money stored in his vaults? It seems to me that justice demands that if the straight community cannot show a compelling reason to deny the institution of marriage to gay people, it shouldn't be denied. And such simple, nebulous declarations, with no real moral argument behind them, are hardly compelling reasons. They're really more like an expression of prejudice than any kind of a real argument. The concept of not denying people their rights unless you can show a compelling reason to deny them is the very basis of the American ideal of human rights."

Gay relationships are immoral.
Again, we need to ask, " Says who?" The Bible? Well, this is precisely the reason that our founding fathers included that pesky little clause, you know the one, tacked in the First Amendment, it discusses freedom of religion. That doesn't just mean you can practice whatever religion you wish, it also means you have the right to freedom from religion as well. The Bible has absolutely no standing in American law, as was made clear by the intent of the First Amendment (and as was very explicitly stated by the founding fathers in their first treaty, the Treaty of Tripoli, in 1791) and because it doesn't, no one has the right to impose rules anyone else simply because of something they percieve to be a moral injunction mandated by the Bible. Not all world religions have a problem with homosexuality; many sects of Buddhism, for example, celebrate gay relationships freely and would like to have the authority to make them legal marriages. In that sense, their religious freedom is being infringed. If one believes in religious freedom, the recognition that opposition to gay marriage is based on religious arguments is reason enough to discount this argument.

Same-sex marriage would threaten the institution of marriage.
I've got 5 words for you: Cher, Larry King, and Brittney Spears.
Threaten marriage? By allowing people to marry? This one is laughable. If it is the stability of the institution of heterosexual marriage that worries you, then consider that no one would ever require you or anyone else to participate in a gay marriage. You would still have freedom of choice, of choosing which kind of marriage to participate in -- something more than what you have now. And speaking of divorce -- imagine how the divorce rate could drop if gay people stopped trying heteresexual marriage because that's what's expected of them, only to end in divorce because they have to be true to themselves and their sexuality. To argue that the institution of marriage is worth preserving at the cost of requiring involuntary participants to remain in it is a better argument for reforming divorce laws than proscribing gay marriage.

And the one that got Prop. 8 passed in California:

Gay marriage would force churches to marry gay couples when they have a moral objection to doing so.

Just like in CA, this argument is usually advanced by churches that oppose gay marriage. To be blunt, it is a big fat lie. There is nothing in any marriage law, existing or proposed, anywhere in the United States, that does or would have the effect of requiring any church to marry any couple they do not wish to marry. Churches already have the right to refuse any couple they wish, and for any reason that suits them. Many often do. Some churches continue to refuse to marry interracial couples, others interreligious couples, and a few refuse couples with large age disparities and for numerous other reasons. Gay marriage would not change any church's right to refuse to sanctify any marriage entirely as they wish - it would simply offer churches the opportunity to legally marry gay couples if they wish, as some have expressed the desire to do - the freedom of religion would actually be expanded, not contracted.

Soap box removed, Fortune Cookies climbing down.
I hope to see you Saturday, in front of the Metro Courthouse.
I'll be holding a poster, look for me!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Inspiration Strikes

sometimes at the most unusual of times. Although I am quite politically motivated, in my social endeavors, I usually reserve my art to be more introspective and reflective of my personal journey, my awakening, my dreams. I don't know why I've not thought of it as quite so political before. I suppose all of those things actually are. But with the granting, and then subsequent removal of basic human rights recently via what the rest of us have come to know as simply Prop. 8, I've been inspired to create this statement. This one is called And Justice for Some.
you can click on the photo to go to my art page to see more photos and close up details on it, if you want.
I'm really liking having days off in the middle of the week, that can be devoted to painting. It soothes my soul.

And Justice for Some

I finished this one today. I'm liking this new medium and technique. I think I'll keep experimenting.

detail of top left corner

detail of finished studio sides

notice Lady Liberty is blindfolded, while standing on the married women's hands

Detail of holding hands

The words peeking through the paint, down the center of the canvas reads
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

...So I be written in the book of love...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One Step Forward, One Step Back

I watched the results trickle in with enough anticipation to fill the all the oceans, many times over.
I thought I might vomit a few times, but I held it down and buckled in for the roller coaster ride.
I've known for some time now that we were on the cusp of a historic event, and that the tides were changing in the climate of our country's politics, but I didn't expect to be overwhelmed with joy, relief and excitement as I was on Tuesday night when I heard those words come across the television, "And with 270 electoral votes, we can call it now, our new President elect is Barack Obama!"
I had goosebumps on my skin from head to toe, and tears welled up in my eyes. I always thought that we'd see, in my lifetime, a black president, but I always thought for some reason that it would be later, much, much later.
Honestly, I thought that we'd see a woman as president first, but I suppose we haven't come quite that far yet.
Wifester had succumbed to the sleep fairies over an hour prior to the announcement, but I had to wake her up to tell her the good news.
"Honey!" I yelled, "Honey! Wake up!"
"What'sthematter!?" she stammered from a sound slumber.
"Obama won! You're missing history in the making!"
"Oh, really? Cool!" she ebbed out, just before covering her face with a pillow and promptly returning to her previous state of consciousness. Then she briefly awoke again to ask why Obama didn't play the Jefferson's theme song, just scare the bejeezus out of all those redneck, "a BLACK man in the WHITEhouse?!" people.
I have to concede, she makes a good point, it would have been funny. But as quickly as she made me chuckle, she was snoring again, so I gave up on celebrating with the Wifester and turned my attentions to the Sunny-dog to tell her how wonderful the news was. Her tail wagged, as though she truly understood, but I think it had more to do with the puppy crack that is formally called Happy Hips Chicken Strips which I treated her to in celebration of the monumental occasion.
I stayed up to watch McCain's concession speach, which I applaud him for. It was appropriate, sincere, and touching. And he actually seemed to get it. We want something different than what we've had. Obama stands for exactly that.
Eventually, I headed to bed feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I slept the best night's sleep that I've had in eight years, if not longer.
The next morning I awoke to a bright and sunny world. The sky was clear. It was a beautiful day. I could feel the shift in the Force. I felt the lightness to my step.

And then I hunkered down to read the reports of how California's Prop.8 panned out.
Gay marriage, newly approved there, was stricken from the rights of thousands of people who recently wed. Florida and Arizona both passed bans on same sex marriage as well.
How about that absurd bill in Arkansas to ban gays and lesbians from adopting?
It appears that Arkansas would rather children stay in group homes, or foster homes, being neglected and unattended to, than to place them with a same sex couple who would love and cherish that child forever.
That is truly a lose-lose situation.

So although I am proud of the progress my country has made in race relations, I am deeply saddened by the overwhelming bigotry and hate that has shifted to a new target, my sexuality.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How Sweet It Is!

I feel so honored to have witnessed such a historic event in my lifetime.
Now, let the healing begin.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hands and Feet

Ok, so I've been caught up in the moment with creating new art with Real Live Lesbian, working on this huge research paper for school, and of course being obsessed with the elections, so I've yet again been a bit negligent in my performance for this week's WWC. I see that Tink, our talented and almost married hostess, was able to produce a WWC, and she's just days away from getting married! What's that mean to me? Easy, I have no excuse. Here's my interpretation of Hands & Feet:

Mine and Wifester's HANDS
From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

in every other country, you would say I played FOOTball
From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

the Sunny-dog lays with her FEET hanging off the bed
From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

my FEET left this mark
From . . . No More Empty Fortune

when I use my HANDS, I make a mess!
From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

From . . . No More Empty Fortune Cookies

There you have it. Yeah, I know the photos are recycled, again, and you've seen them before, but hey, they work.
If you want in on the WWC fun, go see Tink! Oh, but next week, it'll be my favorite cynic, Jay, over at Cynical Bastard hosting it. So stop by there for the WWC-411.

The words for next week are:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blogosphere meets Real Life

Wifester was a bit concerned that Real Live Lesbian may just be a serial kidnapper and that she may never see me alive again if I were to leave the house with her to go on our Saturday morning adventure to the art workshop that we'd scheduled ourselves to attend.
Much to Wifester's relief, Real Live Lesbian was not a serial kidnapper, nor a psycho killer, and was, in fact, quite delightful and entertaining. She's much prettier in real life than her profile photo, and that's a rare occurrence. But far beyond physical appearance, she was also genuine, sweet, and fun to hang out with for the day! Although I was looking forward to being a kidnape'.
She showed up here around 10:15 am or so, and I poured us each a cup of coffee to go. French Vanilla, with french vanilla creamer. MMMMM coffee. Nothing starts a day right like a good cup of Joe. And I've found it to be just the stimulant my right brain needs to get those neurons popping after a long week of pouring over past due, mismatched, and unreceived invoices with merchants and reporting my findings to the banks. Real Live Lesbian and I commisserated on the necessity and difficulty in leaving work behind, especially work involving numbers, and tapping into the free flowing, non-linear world of art.
It was great to meet Real Live, talk and share our ideas, our stories, and our happiness about our respective lives. Often, when I meet a new person, it just feels awkward, and remains that way until I've spent quite a bit of time around them. Not so with Real Live. She was easy to get along with and easy to relax around right away.
We went to the workshop, and met an array of people, from different walks of life, all there in the same spirit as us, to create art, release some negativity, and draw in some positive energy.
We were working on a mixed media piece, to represent letting go of something negative, or releasing.
This was a first for me, both in painting around other people, and in working with mixed mediums.
I began by building my canvas up with articles I clipped from my The Nation magazine. Clips of G.W. Bush and his failures, articles that discussed topics such as the attempts to ban gay marriage, the stock market decline, gas prices, the negativity in political ads, etc. to create a textured surface. I really wanted to bury my angst with my government and learn to rise above it.
In the end, after laying that down as my framework, and painting, then applying some special pieces, such as my great aunt's beads from a necklace that has broken, a lovely sand dollar, and even a twig, I ended up with this,

I'm calling her, "Learning to Swim". If you are standing in just the right light, at just the right angle, you can see the title of one article, "Bye-bye Bush" peeking through the paint. I think that's just perfect!

Real Live created some beautiful birds in flight over a field of poppies.

Her technique and approach are pure genius! I thoroughly enjoyed the class and my time with my fellow local blogger.
My final evaluation? Real Live Lesbian can kidnap me anytime she wants to hit an art workshop. Next time, I'm bringing some Belinis, or Mimosas, or a nice Sangria. Yum!

I forgot my camera, and only had my phone again, but RLL had hers, and we even had the instructor take our photo, together, holding our paintings. Stop by her place, I'm sure she'll post it there.

Saturday, November 1, 2008