A year ago today, I walked into an adoption van on Atlantic Avenue on a whim and came out with a dog. It wasn’t really anything we’d planned aside from vague “someday” musings, and we never had any expectations that we’d end up with a Pit Bull. But all of a sudden, that day, it was real. All of a sudden, we were responsible for a life. All of a sudden, we had a squirmy, cuddly, insane bundle of muscle, fur, and a set of jaws that I’ll admit to finding a little intimidating.
After the forms had been completed and the leash was handed over to us, I naively asked the rescue worker if he knew her birthday. “Today,” he responded.
“Really?” I replied gullibly.
“It is now,” he said.
So we went with it. If Mekko was 2 when we got her (though I think she was a little older), then today she is 3. And she’s been with us a year. Madness.
Pit Bulls are challenging dogs, and Mekko is no exception. They’re wonderful dogs, too—fiercely loyal, disconcertingly intelligent, kind, and more empathetic than most people. Pit Bulls just have a certain spirit about them, one that allows them to bounce back from whatever bad they’ve experienced and accept all the good that can be. We have no real idea what Mekko’s past was like—only that she was an “owner surrender” to the ASPCA when she was around a year old—but you’d never know that she’s been anything but loved and cared for and treated well. It’s remarkable and—I dare say—pretty inspiring.
Mekko is a great dog. She’s kind and cute and curious, a little anxious and a lot of crazy. She keeps us on our toes, makes us beam with pride, frustrates us, and makes us laugh everyday. She’s perennially happy and the best little spoon I’ve ever had. But mostly, she’s the thing that turned us from a fledgling couple trying to figure it all out into a family. And that makes me really, really happy.
Happy Birthday to my favorite Itty Bitty Pretty Pittie Baby.
OK, so I know I’m Jewish but I love Christmas. This year, Max and the dogs and I are keeping warm in the snowy ice tundra wilderness that is Buffalo, New York. We’ve spent the last few days getting into the spirit by sitting around doing next to nothing, shopping, eating too much, drinking too much, and cooking, so I’m pretty sure I’m getting the full Christmas experience? I don’t know how this works.
We aren’t tackling any crazy major projects in Buffalo this time around, but I needed something to keep my hands busy, so I threw some supplies in my bag before we left so that I could make Linus a Santa hat. This was important/essential because Linus is 1) old and 2) sleepy and 3) he looks like Santa’s disembodied beard with eyes and four legs.
1. Red felt
2. White felt
3. Hot glue gun/extra glue
5. White pom poms
A slightly terrifying fact has recently come to my attention: I am now the same age that my father was when he proposed to my mother. They met and fell in love while attending college in Louisiana. Afterward, my mother moved back to her home state of Florida to attend law school while my father commuted to a job on Capitol Hill from his new home in Virginia. They were married in Tampa Bay, Florida on May 31st, 1981. After my mother graduated, they settled down in Virginia, where they raised three (gorgeous, talented, intelligent, awesome) kids and have remained in all the years since. They’ve been married for almost 32 years, and, if all goes according to plan, will remain that way until they die. They’ll be able to visit each other in the hospital, inherit what is legally due to them, and will have benefited for decades from hundreds of rights, privileges, and benefits afforded to them by virtue of being a married couple in the eyes of both their state and their country. They’ll have had rights that they never took advantage of and maybe some that they never even knew or thought about, like most married couples. Because that’s how this country’s government works.
When my dad proposed to my mom all those years ago, I doubt either of them thought much about the possibility of having a kid who would someday be their age, over three decades later in the year 2012, and that he would be a second class citizen of the country in which he was born and raised. I don’t think it occurred to them that they would have a son who, through no fault of his own, would be denied the same rights that they had taken for granted. But that’s exactly what’s happened.
I remember vividly the night that New York passed The Marriage Equality Act in June 2011. Max and I took the subway into the West Village and joined the celebration outside of the Stonewall Inn. We shook hands, hugged strangers, took pictures, bought a polyester rainbow flag (or was it given to us?), and let ourselves feel the weight of what New York had accomplished. Neither of us had ever been close to getting married ourselves—had never personally felt the sting of being told we couldn’t—but still I remember the feeling on the subway ride back home. There was a certain lightness, an indescribable feeling of knowing that our city—our state—regarded us as equals. We were finally granted the same respect that had always been reserved only for our straight peers. It meant that we weren’t outliers, that we weren’t hated, or disparaged, or better off hiding who we were. We were—we are—people, just like everybody else.
I want everybody in this country to have the same feeling I felt that night, and continue to feel as a person lucky enough to live in New York. Unfortunately, it only takes a trip to my home in Virginia, or down to visit my grandmother in Florida, or to any of the 43 states that have legislated away my access to basic civil rights to be reminded of how far we have to go as a nation.
I have yet to hear an argument against gay marriage that is not steeped in bigotry, hate, or often masked by religion. As much as Republicans would like to rewrite history, as often as their vice presidential nominee wants to say “I don’t see how a person can separate their public life from their private life or their faith,” this is not a Christian nation. Our laws and institutions are pointedly and purposefully separate from religion. Nobody is suggesting that your place of worship or religious leader has to perform a gay marriage. The request is simple: to have the same rights under the law. Separate is not equal, and anything less will not do.
I know people who are voting for Republicans. Some of these people I even count as friends. When I talk to them about it, the general response seems to be that they don’t “personally” support discrimination, even if discrimination is central to Republican social policy. Let me be clear: there is nothing more personal than a vote. By voting for Mitt Romney, you are casting a vote for discrimination. You are casting a vote against me, against my family, against equality, against fairness, against love, against freedom, against the promise of liberty and justice for all. A vote for this Republican party, as it stands in 2012, is a vote for discrimination. You are complicit in it, you are supporting it, you are perpetuating it. There is no other way to look at it, and it’s truly heartbreaking to see people I otherwise respect blind to this fact.
The choice in this election couldn’t be clearer, and not just on this issue. It’s the difference between a president who cares about the future of our education system, our public sector workers, and the social programs that attempt to keep those in need afloat, versus a party who doesn’t. It’s the difference between a president who has regained much of our respect in the world and has a proven record of successful foreign policy experience, versus a candidate with no experience, Bush’s foreign policy advisors, and reckless and wildly inconsistent ideas about the rest of the world. It’s the difference between a president who supports rights for women to receive equal pay for equal work, to have access to contraception, and to seek a safe and legal abortion if necessary, versus a party who would deny all of these rights. It’s a choice between a President who has dug this economy out of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression versus a party who wants to return to the policies that caused the collapse in the first place. It’s the choice between a president who regards global warming as a real and tangible threat versus a party who thinks the climate change is a hoax, a joke, or both. It’s the difference between a president who doesn’t think you should go broke or die because of medical costs, versus a party that sees only the bottom line for the insurance industry. It’s the choice between a president who believes in equality versus a party who believes so profoundly in discrimination that they would amend our Constitution to reflect their extreme ideology. And that’s just off the top of my head.
To be clear, President Obama still supports states in legislating their own marriage laws, as ridiculous as that proposition is. His personal support for marriage equality does not actually represent a tangible shift in policy positions. Still, I’m not sure I can describe to a straight person how invaluable it is to have somebody in the White House who acknowledges me, who respects me, who stands in support of my rights where so many others have sat down or gone on the attack. Obama is an advocate and an ally for the gay community, and I am proud to call him my president as a gay American. An Obama presidency is not the answer, but it’s a pretty damn good place to start.
So please, go vote on Tuesday. Even if you think your vote doesn’t matter, if you don’t live in a swing state or you’ve never voted before, please vote. If you live in Washington or Maine or Maryland or Minnesota, please vote. Vote for me. Vote for my family—present and future. Vote for me to someday have the same rights as my parents. To have the same rights as you. Stand up against inequality, and stand with a president who has done the same.
OK, this video made me weepy. If you would like to donate for Washington state’s Referendum 74 for marriage equality, please go here.
You might have heard that we’re having some extreme weather in New York, what with Hurricane Sandy barreling up the coast and wreaking general havoc and inconvenience in her path. Yesterday, both NYU and Parsons announced cancellations for today, and today they’ve already announced for tomorrow. While our hearts go out to anybody and everybody who might actually be affected by the storm in any way, I’m privately and very selfishly thrilled to get a couple days to lounge around and pretend I’m a rich housewife or an agoraphobe, both long-held aspirations of mine.
Yesterday we went to the grocery store and battled huge crowds and very long lines to stock up on “the essentials.” The great (or horrifying) thing about Brooklyn is that nobody really has any idea what the essentials are, so a pretty standard shopping basket tends to hold some combination of frozen pizza, ice cream, a six-pack of beer (or more), and maybe a can of soup and a gallon of water, just because that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. People basically treat this stuff like a city-wide mandate to just stay inside and smoke pot for a couple days, which is pretty cute. Brooklynites would probably be the first to perish in a zombie apocalypse, but they’d do it with style and probably while working on a puzzle, eating kale chips, and watching Twin Peaks.
Like the rest of the borough, we have no fucking idea what to buy. For non-perishables, we basically picked up a couple cans of beans and called it a day before turning our attention to something more important/delicious: baking. We very rarely bake but something about being stuck inside has gotten us into the spirit.
We started with the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookie (the recipe is just on the back of the chocolate chip package, or here). A delicious classic.
While Max was making Toll House magic, I moved on to my grandma’s oatmeal raisin cookie recipe! Max isn’t a fan of these cookies, but I love them. It’s a family recipe so I’d need to get permission before posting it, but I love me some oatmeal raisin.
I also tried my hand at Post Punk Kitchen’s vegan Marbled Banana Bread, which Anna made once while we were hanging out about two years ago. It’s a super delicious recipe and very, very easy to make.
I might need to make another batch, since one slice just really isn’t enough.
We bought the dogs their own little matching American Apparel hoodies yesterday (they’re only $16!) so they could get their cozy on, and it’s pretty adorable. They are not at all concerned or anxious about the storm and I think are just enjoying having us all hang out together for a couple days.
I’ve been writing this blog for about two and a half years now, and in that time my life has changed immensely. I’ve gone from basically being a single, foolish college freshman in Manhattan with some time on my hands to a relationship’d college senior with two dogs in Brooklyn and…much less time on my hands. During that same period, this blog has also grown from something I basically just wrote for fun to a place that supports a readership that I never could have expected. I’m really lucky for that. It really has been my pleasure, all of it.
For a while now, though, I feel like I’ve been at this crossroads. If you’ve read this site for a long time, you’ve probably noticed that posts from me can be few and far between. The fact is that every post—from doing whatever it is I’m posting about, to photographing it, to editing those photos, to finally sitting down to write a post—takes a lot of time, and I’ve never been in a position where I could rationally make this blog a huge priority when weighed against the other pressures in my life. There have been times where I’ve felt like things would be simpler if I just let the whole blog just fizzle out, thereby eliminating this one more thing that nobody was actually making me maintain.
But the problem is that I really like writing this blog. I like the community of readers who come here, I like doing projects, taking pictures, and writing about all of it. And I don’t want to stop any of that. In fact, I’d like to do more of it.
I never, ever had any professional or commercial ambitions for this site when I started it. I’ve seen sites become totally overrun with advertising over the years, and when that has an effect on the content, it rubs me the wrong way. I do not begrudge bloggers for making money off of what they do—at all—but I think I made the decision somewhere along the line that advertising just wasn’t for me—period, end of story. The money would have been nice but I didn’t altogether need it, and I felt as though by accepting advertising, I would be compromising some kind of moral standard I’d set for myself.
A few things have changed, though. The first is that the money issue has become much more tangible. Once we made the decision to keep a certain little dog that wandered into our lives, pretty much all of the Small Cool winnings immediately went into a “dog fund” so that we could pay for his initial veterinary care and have some money squirreled away to pay for the dogs moving forward. But that money is definitely not going to last forever and didn’t allow for other types of spending on the apartment that I had anticipated using it for. So what we’re left with is a half-finished kitchen, plenty of projects I’d like to do, two dogs to support, bills, rent, food, etc. DIY is pretty cheap, yes, but it isn’t free, and to be totally honest, we’re just not in a financial position anymore to support ourselves and the type of content that has made this blog what it is.
The other thing that’s changed is that I’ve realized—with time, some education, and many discussions with people close to me—that I actually don’t feel gross about advertising on a conceptual level. There are plenty of businesses, products, and people who I would actually love to support through advertising, and there’s no reason that I’d have to support any that I don’t. I can create my own advertising model that works for me, on my own terms. I know that might seem obvious, but that realization was big for me.
SO. When Anna redesigned the site, we did so with the idea of sidebar ads fitting into the overall design, and I’m excited to start offering those slots today! There will be 10 available, at least to start off, at a scale of sizes, positions, and prices, in the hope that they’ll be affordable for the types of independent business I’d like to have advertising. I legitimately want these ads to be a useful way of connecting readers with businesses that I support, and I want these businesses to have a means of connecting directly with readers.
What this means for most of you, of course, is that the site will look a little bit different, hopefully in a way that everyone likes. But more importantly, this move also makes this blogging hobby into something more like a blogging job, which means much more frequent posts. I know I’m excited about that and I hope you are, too.
I’m really excited to get going with this new phase of Manhattan Nest. I have a pretty long list of business that I have been/will be reaching out to directly, but I’d love to hear from you, too. Because of the very limited amount of space, I’m going to have to be very picky, but if you happen to have a business (or know of one) that you think would be a good fit for this site, please go ahead and e-mail me for details—I’d love to talk.
As always, thank you for reading. I hope we’re all cool with this. Have yourself a great Tuesday.