Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Own, Original Prayer

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

For the New Year

Please, God, let me contribute to a better world daily, or even very often. Let me remember to ask you for help when I feel anxious or sad.

Please keep my loved ones and me physically and mentally healthy, and animatedly alive.

Help me continue to be a loving parent to our kitties, Phoebe and Toonces, and let me continue appreciating how lucky I am to have Pat's love and dedication.

Please help me to be not only positively contributory, but creative and original in doing so...but please don't make me or my product so unique that no one can relate to it.

Short-term, please help motivate me to be as engaged as I've been historically in my Masters program and keep me pumping my help to all of the projects I'm part of at work with humility, but not with too much humility.

God, please help me continue to love my body through swimming for exercise regularly and by eating only foods that are healthy for me. And please help me go to sleep earlier, so that I get at least seven hours of sleep the majority of nights.

Overall, help me remain gracious, funny, positive, inclusive, community-oriented and hopeful, and alert to Your presence, and to all of the special moments and people and things that I notice when I stay present with what and who is around me, rather than when I'm self-absorbed.

Please let this year be full of love and adventure and good health for everyone, including me. Amen.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Today's Gratitude

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

It's nearly Rosh Hashanah, the time of year when I ought to be doing a spiritual accounting of my past year, and so I'll list that I'm grateful for my:

  • Pat, for making me laugh and making delicious meals, and more
  • Mother's mostly good health and total lucidity at 82
  • Two (and only) older sisters, who are menschen (in the Yiddish sense of the word, i.e., humane beings/good people)
  • Sisters' relative health
  • Sense of humor
  • YMHA swimming pool, with its good hours and blue-on-blue striped lanes
  • Radio-access to top pop-music
  • Funny and kind brothers-in-law
  • Sweet, and appealing, and talented niece and nephews
  • Pat's mother's health and love
  • Pat's nice brother, who calls the plays with her by phone throughout football season
  • Two cat-sisters, with their green eyes and brown, striped fur, and sometimes-affectionate ways
  • Apparently restored inner-ear-bone health (kaynahoreh/no evil eye), according to Dr. Brookler at my checkup last week
  • Friends, who recommended my seeing Dr. Brookler
  • Friends, who I don't see enough of, but who make me happy whenever I do get to see them
  • Hundreds of contacts on various social networking sites, who make me feel part of a community
  • Flowering plant that's sitting on our deck; it was near death and Pat brought it back to life, and now, it has a profusion of big, purple flowers
  • Spacious, art- and book-filled home
  • Property full of flowers and trees and a bright green lawn maintained by my resident "lawnologist," Pat
  • Freedom to experiment and be creative at work
  • Being stateside for the High Holidays, rather than on our own in India, a country, where Jews are not really on the we were last year
  • Having contributed to the launch of an Indian chapter of our GLBT employee network group
  • Big-screen TV, which enables us to feel like we're at the theater
  • Opportunity to pursue a Masters degree part-time while working full-time -- to learn continually, and now at the graduate school level.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Parting Words

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I Felt Compelled to Say Something

Standing in the largest Jewish cemetery I've ever seen, in Valhalla, New York, yesterday afternoon, I said to Rickee's husband, gesturing sweepingly at my suit with my hand, "Rickee made me look good!"

Rickee's husband, who was a grieving stranger to me, took my hand and kissed it. As he kissed my hand, I kissed his cheek and said, "I'm sorry for our loss."

A tall, white-haired man broke in and said, "I have to go, Roy, but...."

The older man was already delivering his message, as I spoke the rest of my statement loudly into the air while turning to go, "She was like a big sister, dressing me."

Monday, September 22, 2008

Rickee Oleet is Gone

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

May She Rest in Peace

Today, I received e-mail from Scott Mitchell of Richard's, letting me know that Rickee Oleet, who helped outfit me in suave clothes for work over the past seven years, died of cancer on Saturday. She had great taste and was a mensch.

I hope to go to the memorial service on Tuesday afternoon. I'll wear a suit that Rickee found for me.

Today, I'm wearing a jacket she suggested a few years ago, and pants she found for me more than half a decade ago. Rickee was sensible in her manner and stylish in her design-sense.

My mother said she'd go with me to the service. Clothing is a way I express myself. My mother has great taste, too. If my mother dies before me, I'll need to carry on the tradition of dressing appealingly. Both of my parents had and have great fashion-sense.

This afternoon, right after I found out about Rickee, I saw one of my colleagues, who always looks great, and I asked him, "Do you also shop at Richard's?"

He reached his jacket behind his office door and showed me the Richard's label inside.

"Well, I just found out that the woman, who helped me for years died this weekend and I'm thinking of going to the memorial service, though it's right in the middle of our day."

"That doesn't sound irrational to me," he said.

"Picture if the guy, who helps you find what you need were to die."

He nodded.

Rickee was like another mother on a small scale. Who else clothes you? (Of course, I paid her to do so, but....) I liked her positive way. I could come in only once every several years and she treated me as though I had never left.

Why are some people struck with cancer? Why do some die from it while others survive?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Three People Who Demonstrated...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...that Bodies Really are Secondary

This posting was going to be about how I needed to be more consciously inclusive of bisexual people because I had my consciousness raised at the recent Out & Equal Workplace Summit and had been wanting to write about the workshop, where it happened, but that posting-theme has been hijacked by even more pressing thoughts -- thoughts that were cousins, I guess, of some bisexuals' struggles to be understood, but not twins:

Bodies as Objects to Transcend

The brilliant Riva Lehrer's latest exhibit and accompanying book were the most amazing demo of her art yet! Riva's writing knocked me out as much as her visual art. In "Totems and Familiars," which went with the exhibit, she wrote:
...if one inhabits a socially challenged body, it virtually guarantees a struggle between the seeming of appearance and the truth of the self. The visibly 'different' person must develop inner resources in order to survive.

Just a couple of hours prior to seeing Riva's artful words and images, I had posted the following at the new Transworkplace network:
From my experience, the top factors in my success or lack of in the workplace have been my:

  • Skills
  • Reputation
  • Appearance
  • Enthusiasm
  • Sense of humor.

These factors seem obvious, and I want to give an example re: appearance: I'll never be the cute, small, curvaceous type of woman that makes some conventional men most comfortable to work with. Instead, I'm tall, with a gender-ambiguous voice, features and energy, and a number of transwomen have assumed I'm post-op (I'm not, but rather, have always been just over the border of female) and so I try to have a winning personality that people want to be around, since I know that most people are afraid of ambiguity. That strategy has served me well so far....

The First Person

So I, myself, was the first person to whom I was referring, who has managed to some degree to demonstrate that bodies are secondary, i.e., a lesbian woman loves me and finds me attractive, which is a sign of success, since I'm also lesbian, and I'm relatively successful in my career as well, no matter my gender-ambiguity.

The Second Person

Riva's narrative reminded me that she was the second person. For a short time, when I lived in Chicago, more than 17 years ago, Riva and I had had a romantic relationship. It had ended naturally and fairly swiftly because maybe both of us had romance-ADD back then.

When Riva and I met in New York this past spring, I was feeling a bit guilty that Pat was not with me; I hadn't predicted that I would feel that way. I thought that our quick time together was ancient history and I didn't bargain for any desire to make new history with Riva.

That was my short-sightedness, as it turned out. I did not tell Riva how I was feeling at the time because I did not wish to betray Pat, and it was a lovely dinner with marvelous conversation, but the evening would have turned ugly, if I had tried to realize any of my amorous thoughts, since not only was I not sure that Riva felt the same way, and not only did she already have a partner herself, but also, the deal I had with Pat was that we were monogamous -- and had been so for 16 years so far, and planned to be till either one's death...and probably past then, even.

What being with Riva reminded me, though, was that people's brains are primary, and their bodies, secondary, as Riva's body is affected by scoliosis, and is not average...and then, as I wrote above, neither is my body average. What is average?

The Third Person

In a Talmud class that I took at my synagogue a number of years ago, one of my classmates was a transwoman. She was the smartest, most interesting and most endearing person in the whole course, including the teacher. One night, I gave her a ride home after class. She was so, so appealing as we drove and then parked to talk a bit more in front of the brownstone, where she lived. I found myself wishing I didn't have to say goodbye to her. Again, I felt guilty, as I was already partnered with Pat, and I did say goodbye and nothing un-kosher ever happened between us. I don't know if she felt the same way and of course, I never checked. She's now blissfully married to another woman in our congregation.

While driving home, I remember that I felt really wistful because it hit me that my classmate still had her male genitals and it was during the time that I was trying to get pregnant by IUI, using an anonymous donor's sperm. Ugh, I could probably get pregnant more easily if only she and I were free for her to impregnate me, I remember feeling.

Really, doesn't this make the case for bisexuality? Or for the wider-than-conventionally-realized human capacity for love and desire? Maybe I don't need to write that posting on bisexuality afterall. Why not just acknowledge that all of us have the capacity to be attracted to anyone who's attractive for whatever reason he or she is attractive -- and in my case, the reason has always been any person's dazzling brain even more than any person's dazzling body.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

There's No Part II

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

We Didn't Go Back to the Wildlife Preserve Today

I did Google "Alonso F Bonsal," though to learn more about why he gave the land to Montclair and there was no information about him on the web. Instead, perhaps his grandson has a Myspace profile. How odd that there's nothing about Alonso Bonsal other than the Max Shulman-esque profile of possibly the next, next generation.

Instead, we planted bulbs in the front-, back- and side-yards:

My legs hurt already -- from hip to calf -- from crouching over the trowel. We were outside for a bit more than three hours, but probably almost an hour of it was spent, talking with a neighbor. He's a camera-man for one of the sports organizations and we found out today that he also plays the drums in a band that covers everything from Pearl Jam to Neil Young.

Music as a Bridge

I didn't want to disappoint him by saying that I was unfamiliar with Pearl Jam's music, and that I preferred disco and R&B. "I *love* Neil Young," I exclaimed when he finally named an artist whose music I'd heard. And I do, actually.

He was introduced to me after freshman year of college by a high-school girl whose mother paid me to tutor the girl in how to study for college. It was touching that her mom wanted her to succeed in college, but it might have been too late.

The girl drove a Camaro or similar car and seemed to be the sort, who probably skipped school as often as she attended it. I might have written about this experience here before, but after the last session, she asked me if I wanted to listen to some music before she dropped me off at home.


We drove to the Cove, part of the shore of the Long Island Sound in Stamford, and sat in her car -- feathers, hanging from the rear-view mirror -- silently listening to Neil Young. At the time, I felt like the scene of us was cool, and at the same time, a little pathetic. I didn't know if I had helped her have a brighter academic future, or if the sessions with me might have boosted her confidence a bit, and/or might have given her mom some hope.

I wonder what the girl and her mother are doing today.

Birthday Surprise Part I

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Who Knew It Was There?

Yesterday was Pat's birthday and when we woke up, we took a walk to honor it. We took our usual route, up Alexander Avenue to Valley Road, swinging ritually around the stem of the Stop sign at the top of Alexander, and then back. This time, though, we noticed that one of the houses on Alexander seemed to have an especially tree-filled backyard.

"I wonder if it backs up to the forest preserve," Pat said.

"What forest preserve?"

"Earlier this week, I saw on a map of Montclair that there's a preserve off of Riverview Drive."

"Really? We've lived here for 12 years and never knew about it before. [The location is probably no more than a quarter of a mile from our home]. Let's go see it on the way back."

"OK. Maybe."

On the way back, we could have done the usual route, but I said, "Pat, let's see it."

We walked past a stucco house -- "You know I like stucco because it can be Art Deco-y," Pat reminded me and then past the rest of the more conventional, two-story, wood-sided ones till we reached a crossroads.

"Pat, the road says it's a dead end, so which way should we go?"

"Straight ahead," and sure enough, there was a wooden park-sign at the end of a thin, asphalt path, tucked between two houses, which read, "Alonso F. Bonsal Wildlife Preserve."

"Pat, it's like we're in a children's book, when it turns magical."

The full-trashcan at the entrance diminished a bit of the mystique, but only a bit. I looked at the houses on either side of us, "Imagine if our house backed up to this; no one's ever going to build back here. Let's go in."

We walked under the sign and descended an old set of New Jersey, brown-shale steps, which included wobbly, steel hand-rails; it was a steep hill, and other than the empty, plastic Gatorade bottle and an Olde English 800-sized Coors beer-can, we were in the thick of nature. Ahead of us was a nicely-arched, wooden foot-bridge over a wide, shallow creek (was this the river that the street was named for?). One of the slats of the bridge was rotted out.

We crossed it, looking right and left at the sun-dappled trees and sparkling brook/river and it led to a shabby, yet still distinct trail.

"It looks like they carted in sand," Pat said, looking down at the path at a number of places.

"Why would they do that?"

"To keep the path maintained."

By "shabby," I meant that the shrubs were overgrown and closing in on the path at various points, though it's true that the path itself was still obvious. We walked a short distance, up a bit of a hill and came to a perpendicular path that was wide enough for cars, and I was intrigued as to how the vehicles would get in and what they'd do once they were here.

If we went straight ahead, we would follow the narrow trail we were on to who knows where?

...It's time for breakfast and I'll finish this later -- perhaps after we take a second visit to the magical preserve. Maybe we'll see some wildlife this time....

Swimming in a New State

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.


I've expanded "My Swimming Autobiography;" scroll to the bottom of it to read about the latest locale.

Also, Pat videotaped a bit of my chilly Maine swim a few weeks ago; I'd never before seen myself swim.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I'm Losing My Edge...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

...Due to the Cats

Petting our darling, pretty/cute-faced cats is dulling my edge. Their effect is too calming, I fear.

And Toonces now comes to visit nightly, any time between 1 and 5 am. She likes being taller than us, which she is only when we're prone. She still has her claws because Pat tells me it would be like cutting off their finger-tips if we de-clawed them...and she must knead nightly. She found my bare shoulder last night.

The thing is, I found myself staying up all night, waiting for her arrival; this morning, she came up to see us at 3 am. I'm much more tired than when I've slept solidly. It's for life, now

Still, I am pleased to feed them and freshen their kitty-litter each morning so far. They're a way to start each day, being of service.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dancing for Equality

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Well, Really More So Just for Fun

Should I or shouldn't I? At my first cousin's wedding earlier this year, I opted to do a Russian dance-move that I always enjoyed doing, growing up, where I'd go into the center of where people were dancing and drop down to the floor suddenly, then kick out my legs from a crouch while rotating. It always got people exclaiming and clapping and it was so easy...or at least, it used to be when I had limberer limbs.

Tonight, I weighed the risk of nearly falling again with the fun of hearing the sounds of happy surprise and the claps, and I went ahead and took the risk. I was able to get back up and stagger my way, a bit, out of the circle. And then I was done. My colleague and friend Richard, from Australia, and I walked back to the hotel in what felt like humid, 100-degree weather at 11:30 pm (Central Time). Who knows what time it was for Richard.

About 45 minutes prior, the DJ inspired my colleague and friend Sue from Kansas, by way of Virginia, to say, "I'm nearly techno'ed out." And then the DJ was psychic because he played CeCe Peniston's "Finally" and the Pussy Cat Dolls' "When I Grow Up," Cindy Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and a re-mixed version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing."

There I was, dancing with lesbian, gay and bisexual IBM colleagues from Johannesburg, Seattle, Paris, Denver, Sydney, Kansas City and Toronto. I hadn't planned to. I had planned to come back to the hotel at a sensible hour and get a good night's sleep, so I'd be my freshest for the last workshop I'm co-facilitating later this morning. But I couldn't resist.

Where We Were Dancing, and After Which Program

We were just outside the ballroom of the Austin Convention Center, on a tiny dance-floor, following the awards dinner of the Out & Equal Workplace Summit. We had applied to win for the top employee resource group, but it was the 30th anniversary of HP's formation of a gay and lesbian affinity group, and HP won.

Next year, my friend David pointed out, it will be the 25th anniversary of IBM, adding "sexual orientation" to our U.S. equal employment opportunity policy and we just launched our EAGLE - India chapter after the application deadline, so there's always next year....

Friday's Panel

Yesterday, Fauzia Zaman-Malik of Accenture, Cathy Tanelli of Citi, representing her partner, who she accompanied on assignment, Rochelle Weitzner of International Paper, who couldn't travel down due to the hurricane, and Suzy Deffeyes, Rob Shook and I -- all of IBM -- offered a panel, "How to Succeed on International Assignments While Being L, G, B or T [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender]."

I spoke to a good number of attendees prior to start of the panel and learned that one of them works for a petroleum company and lives in Kazakhstan. Another, who worked for the same company, lived in Angola on an assignment; homosexual activity is punishable by death in Angola, he told me.

Another attendee grew up around the world, with his parents, and had worked for an NGO for some time prior to getting the corporate experience he's gaining now, but had never lived abroad since coming out, and was trying to figure out how to continue being a world citizen while being as openly-gay as possible.

Two men were fathers (of separate families) and wondered how their kids would be able to be out about their same-sex parents while living, and attending elementary school, in a foreign country.

Two gay, Indian guys had transferred from the branch office of a Fortune 500 company in India to Jersey City and Salt Lake City; the one in Salt Lake City said he nearly had to quit a number of times before he felt comfortable enough to continue in the job. And then he asked me, "Are you friends with Deepak?" (Deepak is an IBM alumnus.)

"Yes! What a small world." (The gay, Indian world, probably *is* small, i. e., probably many know one another.)

Another attendee was a biologist with a pharmaceutical company, who had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa years ago, but who had not been out then. Fast forward to today, and his employer has asked him to go on assignment to Singapore next month; he's taking his partner with him. He asked, "Do any of the panel know who I might talk to about Singapore?"

Rob pointed at the guy six seats to the questioner's right and said, "You ought to talk to our IBM colleague Javan, who lives in Singapore." I was so proud that we were able to help so instantly and directly.

It was interesting that none of the female attendees spoke about experiences with assignments and by contrast, our panel was made up of four women and one man, as it turned out....Originally, I had invited two friends, who work for the U.N., but they had to back out -- what did I expect, since they work on the Mideast Peacekeeping Desk(!)

When the panel was done, Cathy, Rob and Suzy had to go right away to their next meeting, but Fauzia and I stuck around to keep talking with some of the attendees. When they were done with us, I just spent a minute, packing up, and I felt suddenly super-sad.

It was such an important 90 minutes, as it turned out, and I crashed when it was all done. And I felt sad, saying goodbye to Fauzia because both of us had had assignments in Bangalore, and while we prepared for the panel, we had had excuses to stay in touch, but I didn't know how we would now that it was done, even though I said, "I really hope we stay in touch because I like you."

She agreed, but I think that both of us sounded a bit wistful, as if we knew it would be difficult to make future meetings happen....Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Live from Austin...

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

Note: I'm totally cheating: I've just cut and pasted this blog-entry from my internal, IBM blog, "Learning for Fun and Profit." I try not to do that too often, but it's only practical this week.

It's the Out & Equal Workplace Summit!

I'm excited to be co-facilitating, "Engaging in Virtual Worlds for Real-world Business Value" with Suzy Deffeyes and Eric Rybczynski later today; Suzy initiated it and I begged to help, since I had experience with an internal case study -- the mentoring pilots we've done in the Metaverse. It was interesting to work with Suzy and Eric, who are marvelously technically-oriented, and to learn from their vast experience with virtual worlds. Suzy, for example, is part of the Digital Convergence EBO [emerging business opportunity] and Eric became interested, in part, due to his deafness, since the early days of Second Life, for instance, were not about VoIP, but rather text-chat, which opened up a new world of people with whom Eric could easily communicate.

Since most of you are not here with us, I think you can be the first to see the charts and speaker notes that'll accompany us. We'll also hand out a tips-and-benefits sheet. [I'll share the tips-and-benefits sheet next week.]

On Friday, I'm psyched to be serving on an inter-company panel that I conceived of and organized, "How to Succeed at International Assignments While Being L, G, B or T [lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender]." Rob Shook, Suzy Deffeyes and I will be representing IBM, and Fauzia Zaman-Malik will represent Accenture, and Cathy Tanelli will represent International Paper. We'll also hand out a tip-sheet at the end of the panel. [Again, next week, I'll share it.] We won't have charts for the panel, other than one with our names and titles on it. We'll have some amazing stories, though, I'm confident.

On Saturday, Frank Jania and I will co-facilitate "Web 2.0, What it is, and What's in it for You." I learned a great deal, working with Frank, and I hope he learned a bit from me, too. I'll wait to post our presentation till we return from Austin, since it doesn't happen till the weekend (if the expected hurricane doesn't interfere). Hands-down, it's the most stylish presentation I've ever co-created -- thanks to Frank's great design sense.

Learn more about the Out & Equal Workplace Summit. I'm hoping that every one of the 13 panels or workshops in which IBMers are either co-facilitating, moderating or serving as panelists will post any charts or tip-sheets they hand out on Cattail [effectively, an internal, web-based team room], as we're doing....

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Special Sort of Matchmaker

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

I've Never Succeeded as the Traditional Sort

Just once, in college, I recommended that my boss at one of my work-study jobs go on a blind-date with my girlfriend's roommate. It was a disaster. I've never again tried fixing up people with each other romantically...however, I don't hesitate to attempt matches if the outcome could lead to people's advancement in terms of their career and/or human rights progress.

This weekend, I received e-mail from a prominent woman, who was born male and transitioned a generation ago. It reminded me of a Canadian colleague, who's transitioning currently, and who's relatively early in her career.

I introduced the two of them to each other electronically. The newly-transitioned colleague thanked me for the introduction, saying that she was well-aware of the woman and that the woman's web site really helped her as she was doing her transition research.

The woman, who contacted me initially, generously suggested that she would invite my colleague to become her friend in Facebook.

Matching China

While catching up on e-mail that arrived during our vacation, I found a sweet note from an IBM colleague, who's brand new in his career -- fresh out of university. He's openly gay and working in Shenzhen, China. He found me because I am acquainted with a Beijing-based IBMer, who's also relatively open about his sexual orientation, and who apparently told the new IBMer about my efforts to encourage a community of GLBT IBMers worldwide. He asked what he could do.

I just responded via e-mail that he could launch the China chapter of our GLBT employee resource group. Hope he does!

"Sapna" Means Dream

During vacation, another wonderful dream came true due, in part, to some of my social-justice match-making. Dearg and Sapna readily accepted the role and I made them aware of each other; in August, they launched the India chapter of our GLBT employee resource group. It's not about imperialistically force-fitting western customs, I don't feel, but rather, about helping GLBT IBMers worldwide to feel more at home and welcome in our company.

Czech Out

Earlier today, I saw on a great interview when I searched for our GLBT employee resource group on IBM's intranet site; a Linux specialist in Czech Republic was asked whether diversity was promoted at the company, where she worked prior to IBM:
Not really. In the previous job, only two of my closest friends knew about my different sexual orientation. You know, you just went to the job, worked for 8 hours a day and nobody cared about your personality, your sexual orientation or your preferences.

In IBM, there is a huge difference. The company not only cares about your business performance, but also about your comfort at work, your personality and well-being (not only in the form of benefits).

Matches -- Past and Future

Progress happens, I'm reminded, by the radio interview that my friend and IBM alumna Suzanne McHugh shared with me, of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, some 40 years into their being together. Probably, it's most poignant of all that I heard from Suzanne during my vacation, as Suzanne wrote the white paper that recommended IBM, adding Domestic Partner Benefits, which it did in in the United States in 1997.

Suzanne and I met at the 1995 National Gay & Lesbian Business Expo, when I was still with a joint venture of IBM and Sears; I had proposed that IBM be a major sponsor of the Expo, and it agreed.

Without meaning to sound presumptuous, Suzanne and I, in our relatively early dedication to promoting inclusion of GLBT clients and colleagues, were among the IBM, mini-versions of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (though we have long-time partners of our own and are not a couple); we wanted to make it a better company/world, and we have done so a bit, I think. People like the Canadian, Indian, Irish, Czech and Chinese IBMers will make further improvements, I'm confident.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Home Again

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

And It's Good to Be

Being home with our kitties, Phoebe and Toonces, feels wonderful, much as it was fun to get away.

We enjoyed staying in a gay-owned B&B during our Maine vacation this past week. I was reminded of my senior year, when I lived in Osterweil, a co-op in Ann Arbor. The nicest part of living there was that the houseful of people became a community. In Ann Arbor, I learned about the environment from fellow Osterweilians, who studied in the School of Natural Resources, and at the B&B, I learned that there's a new biography of Jeannette Howard Foster, who wrote *Sex-variant Women in Literature,* a book I found during my early years of living in Chicago, pre-Pat.

Social Networking -- Online and Off...

For my work so far this year, I've dedicated time to building a community online, and considering the serendipitous, informal learning people can access through online social networking. Being at the B&B this week, I was reminded that the same thing can happen through face-to-face social networking.

For example, I learned about the Go Go PRIDE mobility scooter from a Canadian couple I met while walking on the Marginal Way; learned that Alison Bechdel is coming out with a new book this September from one of the other guests at the B&B; and another of the B&B guests learned from me to combine goat-cheese, hummus and walnuts with red peppers - a combo he'd never considered.

Socializing face to face and online both are valuable to me. My online class began last Wednesday and despite the bit of delay caused by the technology used by my grad school, it was a decent learning experience. And I was approached electronically by two classmates -- one a Leadership Development leader at a large firm in New York and the other, an animator in Los Angeles. To me, whether in person or online, profound learning and deep socializing is possible when the people involved have an abundance mentality.

The point about having an abundance mentality reminded me of something surprising I learned last week, when I spent a day at the Teachers College (TC) library: An administrator of "PocketKnowledge," the social archive of TC told me that more people haven't yet posted their research, perhaps, as they're afraid of people stealing their work. That made no sense to me. In my case, I posted my collection of some of my best writing and research so far (I think you need a TC UserID and password to access it) because I want to promote the notion that I'm an emerging scholar in Adult Learning and Leadership.

The scarcity mentality extends to simple socializing, too. There are good people with whom I come into regular contact, who discount anything that's not face-to-face and I need to let them feel that way, and I wish that all of them would let me feel as I do, which is the opposite. In my experience, people, who are super-sociable and generous online are typically also giving and sociable when face to face. It's a silly stereotype, I think, that people, who are active online, somehow are less able to socialize with "real" people....Even as I write this, I know it sounds defensive.

It's true that I'm more comfortable being fully self-expressive in writing than when I am in conversation with people, typically, but still, I feel equipped to have a substantial interchange offline as well as online. They're different. And one is not better than the other, I am coming to see. I used to over-simplistically subscribe to the position that face to face contact was always superior to any other sort of exchange. I'm growing and recognizing that each way of communicating has its virtues and drawbacks.

Socializing with Animals

After a week of socializing with new friends and classmates both online (for class) and offline (for vacation), I'm ready to socialize most of all this weekend with our pets, Phoebe and Toonces. I hope I can finish the great book I found at the start of our vacation, by Temple Grandin, *Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior*. I want to understand our cats, as I didn't grow up with pets. So far, it's amazing. I feel much closer to them after just 75 pages.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Marginal Way

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

It's Beautiful

"Excuse me, may I stop you for a moment?" I asked a woman with shoulder-length, gray hair and a lovely face, riding a mobility scooter past me on the Marginal Way.

She stopped. There was a tall man with her, with a thickish, white beard, wearing a white T-shirt and white shorts.

"I wonder how portable that is," I said, "I mean, my mom's 82 and I don't know if she could fit that in her trunk."

"Well, this [the steering column] comes off, and then the seat, too, and the battery, which is 29 pounds."

"But my mom doesn't have someone like you've got, unfortunately [I looked over at her apparent husband], to lift it into the car for her....It's too bad because I think she'd love it; she's a champion of her walker, where most of her peers are too vain to use one."

"Yeah, I have MS and this has --"

"-- revolutionized your mobility, right?"


"My aunt had MS. Too bad she couldn't have used something like this back then. She just hobbled along at the end -- she didn't die of MS; she died of breast cancer."

We looked together at a twisted cedar and I realized that Pat had continued down the path to get more shots of crashing waves. "What's the brand name?" I asked, looking at the back.

"Go Go, PRIDE," the man answered.

I smiled at them, at the name. "That's a great name. Well, I'd better find my partner. Thanks for the info."

Pat was some distance down the path and she showed me where she was shooting. Suddenly, I heard tires stop on sandy asphalt. "I want to tell you," said the woman, next to me again, "My daughter's gay, too, and she noticed the name of the scooter, too."

I smiled, "Well, yes, it's a great name. It should be called 'Pride.'"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Maine Mind

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

What Has Been Possible So Far Due to Vacation

Yesterday, I sat on the rocks behind the Ogunquit Museum of American Art (here's a glimpse of what it looks like in back) and began a drawing.

So far, it has my arms outstretched in front of me -- life-size because I have a giant sketch-pad with me -- ready to dive in what? I'll have to keep vacationing till I know the answer and am inspired to finish the drawing.

Yesterday, too, I swam in the pool at the B&B. It wasn't heated and after I got out, my ears felt like they were being poked with kebab-skewers deep inside. Still, it was refreshing otherwise; its chilly temperature reminded me of a natural pool that I swam in with one of my first and second cousins when I lived in Israel for the summer at age 15. It also reminded me of a natural pool that my only boyfriend ever, his brother and his brother's partner and I swam in when I was 19, in Ithaca, New York.

Another Autobiography in a Series?

On Sunday, when we played golf all day in New Hampshire with our friends Lyn and Mary Alice, at Breakfast Hill, I thought, maybe I ought to create "My Golfing Autobiography" like I did with My Swimming Autobiography...but golf hasn't been constant for me the way swimming has, nor do I associate it with my coming of age.

I'll start it and see if it works, but I don't feel motivated like I did around my swimming experiences:

Stamford, the early years - 10 years old

As the only lefty in the free, public, kids' class at Sterling Farms, I never felt coordinated and once the class was done, I didn't return to golf until Pat and I got together 17 years later.

The Midwest - ages 27-31

Unbeknownst to me, till after I succeeded the second time around, playing golf was a prerequisite to a successful relationship with Pat; Pat got me five lessons from NIU's golf coach and then a set of clubs for my first birthday with Pat. I told the coach, "I'm a lefty. Should I play left-handed or right-handed?"

"Be proud," she said, encouraging me to play as a lefty. The coach made it fun and helped me put my childhood trauma behind me. We played in DeKalb....Maybe I'll continue this in awhile, or maybe I won't be inspired to....I've been writing while hearing the Republican Convention, playing in the other room. It's getting harder, especially as the time draws near to listen to Sarah Palin. Whoever's elected this fall, there will be more ethnic or gender diversity in the White House than ever before.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Books That Went on Our Vacation

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

One Down, 13 to Go

Just finished a novel that my sister Deb recommended, which was good, but reminiscent of another author, which my other sister Kathy had recommended several years ago. The novel I just finished, by Adam Mansbach, was called, *The End of the Jews*. It reminded me of Jonathan Lethem's *The Fortress of Solitude,* but I enjoyed Lethem's book more. Why? I guess because his character, more believably, was interested in the music that played on KISS-FM and WBLS than Mansbach's loved hip-hop, and the graffiti discussions in Lethem's were more compelling, and because I sympathized more with his main character than Mansbach's.

I brought 13 other books with me on vacation, not including two for school, featuring:

  • Temple Grandin's *Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior* - Interested in understanding our cats better
  • Rutu Modan's *exit wounds* - I like graphic novels and this one's set in Israel, where I've lived, and where I have lots of family
  • David Wroblewski's *The Story of Edgar Sawtelle* - This one was recommended by Pat, who hasn't yet read it, but who read about it; it has a thinking dog in it and I'm charmed so far; I read part of it already
  • Stone's, Patton's and Heen's *Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most* - This seems like essential reading; I read part of it already
  • Laraine Herring's *Lost Fathers: How Women Can Heal from Adolescent Father Loss* - This is to help me with my ever-lasting grief over losing my father at 17; I read part of it already
  • Clive James' *Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts* - My mother recommended it; I read part of it already
  • Ben Shahn's *The Shape of Content* - I liked the title and I love the artist; I read part of it already
  • Louise Rosenblatt's *Literature as Exploration* - Saw it at the Teachers College bookstore and liked the title; read part of it already
  • Palloff's & Pratt's *Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace* - thought it would be a good companion for the other two textbooks I need to read this semester for my Instructional Design and Educational Technology course
  • Scott Page's *The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies* - I'm not sure where I read about this, but the title appealed to me, as I feel we ought to value people *because* of their differences, not "...regardless of them," which is the language that has been used by U.S. equal employment opportunity policies; I read part of it already
  • Christian Bauman's *In Hoboken* - my friend Linda's good friends with the author and recommended it; I read part of it already
  • Jack Mitchell's *Hug Your People* - I like to buy my clothes at Richards, which is one of the stores owned by Jack Mitchell, and I liked his first book immensely; I read part of this new one already
  • Robert Henri's *The Art Spirit* - If I remember correctly, I saw this in the Museum of Modern Art store and loved the title and first several paragraphs because it urged me to be myself, and bought it accordingly; I read part of it already

A guy, staying at the same B&B as us walked by our table here, by the pool, and asked, smiling, "Are you planning to read all of those today?"

For me, I'm just happy to have them with me. It has been so long, it seems, since I've read purely for pleasure, like since India...even though I hope that's not true, it might be. Well, I try to read "New Yorker" short stories pre-bed, and bits of the books I said I'd already read part of above, but it's refreshing to have uninterrupted time to read a book all the way through.

If I'm lucky, I'll get through Modan's graphic novel and maybe one other of the books before vacation's done, and I'll be grateful for that.

In pausing to read for pleasure, I've heard about two, new books coming out soon, and can't wait: a novel by Alice Dark and a new book by Alison Bechdel, who wrote one of my favorite books ever, *Fun Home*.