Saturday, March 28, 2009

Higher Ground Parties Part I: Winter's a Drag Ball

Around Valentine's Day, I had been couch surfing in Northampton, staying with people in Tyler primarily. When it came to V-Day weekend, I was a single curmudgeon who did not want to do anything until a new friend invited me to spend the weekend with her in Burlington, Vermont and go to a drag ball. This seemed preferable to staying at Smith and I was ready to go exploring beyond Western Mass. She took me up to Burlington on Friday afternoon and I fell in love with the mountains on the drive up. On Saturday morning, we wandered around downtown and I thoroughly enjoyed the city. On Saturday night, the drag ball happened. Above is Kristina dressed as a drag queen--and because it's Vermont, she needed to try the outfit with snow boots.

Grease, Brokeback, and the prom, oh my!

I decided that I was James Bond. Thanks to Meesh's contribution of suspenders and a bow tie, my tux jacket totally became a tuxedo! Good thing I was dressed as James Bond because I needed my stealth skills for a bit of light breaking and entering that night.

Chin-dancing! When we got to Higher Ground for the party, we wandered around the venue and eventually found our way into the little room where they were actually playing dance music.

So we danced.

No, seriously, my only dance move is to turn my head at oblique angles.

I wonder what's going on to the right.

Introducing: The Breadwinner! On our way back into the big room because the little room was full, Meesh ran into her friend from camp whom she hadn't seen in many years. "Take a picture of me and Chuck!" was my introduction to the Breadwinner.

James Bond meets Brokeback Mountain.

Those fish were actually coming from a drag queen's 3-foot-tall head piece. Those of us under 5'2" kept getting fished in the eye all night. Aforementioned drag queen also had a knack for finding my ankle with her stilettos.

Sometime around now, I went into the bathroom and saw a woman I assumed was dressed as/looked like Alison Bechdel (only my favorite writer ever whom I saw speak at Smith once but was too fangirl nervous to actually ask her about why when she changed publishers, her books went from HQ to PN, which implies a de-queering, in my opinion). I made a dumb joke to her about the lack of toilet paper. So dumb, in fact, that I have erased it from my memory, I just know that it happened. She smiled and washed her hands, then left the bathroom. Later on, I found out that she was at the drag ball (a post on her blog which she has mysteriously deleted). Which means that I said something stupid to Alison Bechdel. Alas.

I spent a lot of time imagining what I must be saying or explaining in this picture. "Ya see, first ya take it by the tail and, are ya' followin' me?"

And the rest is history.

Friday, March 27, 2009

An Email to Gov. Jim Douglas

I'm not feeling too eloquent this Friday morning. Nevertheless, there are too many things going on in my head to not write.

A few days ago, The Breadwinner mistook a post on a friend's Facebook about the same-sex marriage bill in Vermont passing through the state senate for it passing in general. We did a little dance before we realized what had actually happened. Since then, I have been checking Google news for "Vermont gay marriage bill" every few hours. I was heartbroken when I read that the governor would veto the bill if it got to him. No one knows whether it will pass if it has to come to an override of the veto. So, why does this affect me so much, sitting in my apartment in a small town in upstate New York?

It all feels so familiar. In the spring of 2004, I knew that I was moving to Massachusetts for college. I feverishly watched the judicial battle over same-sex marriage in Massachusetts while cities like New Paltz and San Francisco chose to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. I didn't really care what happened across the country due to gay-marriage fever. I cared about Massachusetts. I cared that I could get married where I would be living for the foreseeable future (at that point, I was certain I would never leave). My GSA advisor, unbeknownst to me at the time, was actively taking part in attempts to bring same-sex marriage to the forefront on Long Island. I couldn't have cared less. I was leaving and I had a sense that Long Island and New York State would never change. I knew I would never be back.

Five years later, I again find myself living in New York, knowing that soon I will move back to New England. I will live in Vermont as soon as possible. Again, we are told that oh, you know, New York might have a gay marriage bill up this spring... it'll probably happen by Schumer and Bloomberg. Granted, Schumer's change of heart is nice, I doubt it will lead to any actual change in New York. From where I'm sitting in the North Country, where teasing bangs is still fashionable and the check out lady at Hannaford doesn't know what to make of a same-sex couple simply buying groceries, I'm skeptical.

Yet, just across Lake Champlain--so close you can practically see it from here, I see hope. On Sunday, we went to Burlington's very small Friend's Meeting. During announcements, a sweet old lady stood up and began, "This might be the greatest announcement I ever get to share," and I assumed she was going to tell us that she was a grandmother. I was wrong. "This weekend, my partner and I were united in civil union." Later on, she also spoke about where the push for same-sex marriage in Vermont was the weakest, about calling reps and getting the word out. I sat in this small room, surrounded by the warmth of so many supportive people who asked questions about how to help and contributed their own ideas.

I have never stayed for Fellowship at any Meeting, but The Breadwinner and I stayed that day. We introduced ourselves, talked about what we are doing in Plattsburgh and how we hope to move to Burlington soon. Another woman saw us headed towards the door and turned to the person she was speaking to, saying, "I'll be right back, I need to talk to them before they go." She welcomed us to Meeting and was very kind. She took a few minutes to get to her point, but did say it outright, "Here, I don't think anyone could care if you're gay or straight, everyone is welcome here. Please do come back." The fact that this woman went out of her way to make sure we knew we were wanted at this Meeting made me nod my head and say, "We need to live here." Of course, in Northampton, there were so many queer families at Meeting, no one thought it necessary to say that sort of thing. But it means more coming from someone outside of the queer community, in a setting where there are queer people but we are by no means a force to be reckoned with.

I knew in 2004 that I wanted to move to Massachusetts. I cried and cheered when gay marriage became legal. Now, I know that I could always live in Massachusetts, but I think the small state atmosphere of Vermont is pulling me in. In pictures of Vermonters crying in the state house, I recognize someone I went to the drag ball in Burlington with. At the co-op on a Sunday morning, I can see people who were spandex clad at the queer super hero dance party the night before. I can see queer families, hockey players, and rock climbers. I can see the mountains and the lake. I know this is where I want to get married and raise a family. So, while I am still not one of your constituents, I ask as a future Vermonter, please don't veto this bill, Mr. Governor.

The Breadmaker

(Yeah, I actually sent as much as I could--given the character limit--to the governor.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Couch-Surfer Does Reconstructive Surgery

The couch in our living room had the saggingest springs I had ever encountered. The Breadwinner had put the top of a Rubbermaid tub under the cushions to try to keep you from sinking right to the floor. Today, in intense frustration, I decided something must be done. I figured we could get rope and effectively make a hammock under our cushions. I cut it open and figured out how it would work. Originally, I had hoped to staple-gun the rope to the wood, but the staples didn't hold. Instead, I used the springs as the framework for my netting. In order to keep the rope tight, which was not easy, the Breadwinner helped Gorilla tape the rope in place. Once we went perpendicular to the springs, I used the remaining rope to go parallel, then perpendicular again. In the end, we created an only kind of saggy couch.
"That was the best $15 couch repair, ever," said the Breadwinner.

Also, I decided to use our otherwise useless top sheet to make a temporary slip cover for the couch until we can get fabric to recover the couch in a classier fashion (another chance to use our new staple gun!).

Repaired couch gets a big thumbs up.

And this is just because it needed to be posted! Idgy is trying desperately to escape The Breadwinner's grasp after she got a nice bath yesterday. We couldn't put a dirty turtle into a clean pool!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cleaning Windows and Organizing the New Apartment

Today it was a nice day for spring cleaning. Well, every day of my life is kind of like spring cleaning. One of today's tasks was cleaning the windows--of which there are many. Unfortunately, only one is over a porch so I could clean the outside too. We live at a big intersection with a stop light so all of the exhaust makes the windows really gross.

But I got outside and scrubbed as best I could. We have at least one streaky-clean window!

The Breadwinner's job was to move the different layers of glass up and down from the inside. She also sat with her phone at the ready to dial 911 in case I ended up off the roof. Always good to have a spotter.

This is the big intersection where we live. A big intersection for Plattsburgh, that is.

I cannot take credit for this one, but I am proud of The Breadwinner for coming up with it:
We buy a lot of bulk foods (rice, beans, lentils, barley, on and on and on) and we were storing them in their bulk bags in a big bin that we had to dig through every time we wanted to cook something. Being a big Camp person, the Breadwinner had a ton of Nalgenes which we now have lined up on a shelf. We still need about 30 more for all the different bulk bags we have, but hopefully I will get my glass jars up from the Island soon.

This is our bedroom! I hung up the tapestry and put the ridiculous duvet cover on the bed. Suddenly, it was much more homey! Also, I'm proud to say that I make the bed every morning. If we both weren't so opposed to top sheets, I probably would not because of the extra step.

This bit of organization is my doing:
All of this used to live in a 3-foot-high pile on my side of the bed. I purchases 12 crates, wire ties, and two closet shelves. After an hour of construction and umpteen hours of sorting, we have hers-and-hers clothing storage that takes up surprisingly little space and will be easy to reuse/rearrange when we move!

Also in the bedroom is the turtle pool. No, it's not supposed to be opaque but the filter isn't working properly.

The Breadwinner is big into crafting and likes the idea of organization. She just needs some help in implementation. I will consider this the "before" picture and hope to soon have an "after." If only I had a before-the-clothing-storage-unit photo!

The one thing on this side of the room that is organized: my wool!

Some more "before" messiness.

This is my epic To-Do List. I scratch off a few things a day. I definitely have enough to keep me entertained until I find a job!

This picture is misleading because I actually did not really clean the turtle pool. That was all the Breadwinner. I will wash all the dishes in the world but I am having none of that turtle business.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Bomboloni-OM NOM NOM

I decided a few days ago that I really wanted homemade doughnuts and after searching Martha, I picked out Spiced-sugar Bomboloni which are a type of Italian doughnut.

I didn't really notice in the photo that it basically looks like zeppole (mmm, New York carnivals!). I had to use whole wheat flour because I am terrified of the possible moth situation in the while flour. That's right. The moths are STILL around. I don't understand how this is possible. We didn't have moths in West Street until the spring of '07, then all of sudden they were everywhere. And two years later, they still follow me. Anyway, you can look at Martha for the real recipe, I just want to post my pictures and talk about what happened/my discoveries.

The recipe said to roll out the dough to an inch thick and use a circular cutter. I didn't have one so I just cut it with a knife. While the first doughnut was cooking in a few inches of oil (flipping after about 4 minutes), I realized that this was probably not the best method for making the doughnuts. I decided to just roll them with my hands into dough balls (hence the zeppole effect). They cooked much better this way because the first doughnut turned out tasty but very burnt on the outside and a little raw inside.

My next three hand-rolled doughnuts turned out much better. I used powdered sugar instead of fine crystal sugar because I decided to accept that I had made zeppole instead of bomboloni. Nevertheless, I spiced the sugar according to the directions (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger) which I was not a huge fan of.

I made some more yesterday and thought that it would be a good idea to put a filling in the middle that didn't need to cook because I was still having problems with the inside being under-cooked. What better filling than chocolate?! I wrapped the dough around some chocolate chips and rolled it tightly closed. It was absolutely delicious and the chocolate was perfectly melted in the middle. Due to my desire to put peanut butter on everything, I added some to the top. I think next time I will try to fill them with peanut butter and chocolate.
The moral of the story: bomboloni=meh, zeppole=amazing and best when made with a filling!

Places My Stuff Has Been

I've lost count of how many places I've slept in the past two months and this is a very, very small sample of all the places my stuff has been. I'm thinking I should name my suitcases so I can say "Here's Julio in Lauren's apartment." I just can't think of good names for them.

So, only Mama Pajama is really visible in this picture, but I needed to record being at the 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland for the first time in five years--making me feel very much like a scholar. This was where I stayed January 14th and 15th.

This was all of my stuff a while later hanging out in Erika's room in Duckett at Smith in Northampton, Massachusetts on February 10th. Between the first picture and this picture I stayed in Tyson's Corner, Virginia then downtown DC then with Harris near West Falls Church, Virginia. I then hopped a plane and stayed in Enfield, Connecticut for a while, followed by some time in Tyler House and Chapin House at Smith, back down to Connecticut, then to Erika's room.

Next, I moved over to stay in Tyler between Katie and Kristina's rooms so my stuff lived in the second floor hallway. I then went with Kristina to Burlington, Vermont, then back down to Smith to spend one more night at Tyler.

Then I took my bad-self over to stay with Caitlin in Jamaica Plain.

From JP, I went down to Philly to visit with the Spellers and Rachel Brown, then up to Plattsburgh to stay with Cassie. Though this is not really a photo of my luggage, you can still see her in the background.

From Plattsburgh, I went down to New Paltz to stay with Lauren and leave my stuff in a messy pile in the corner of her yoga room. And now I am at my mom's house on Long Island until Monday when I head back up to Plattsburgh! Ooof! That was a lot of moving about. But now I have to figure out how to pack all of my stuff that I want to live with into two suitcases to bring on the train.

Monday, March 9, 2009

"About the Author" circa age 16

While searching for an old notebook (in stacks and stacks of old journals--ever the writer) among the smoky contents of black garbage bags that hold everything from my life that was saved from after the fire, I stumbled upon my "Literary Anthology." This was a traditional assignment given to juniors in Southold High School. Mine is full of The Ghey and general anti-establishment ranting. Poems include: "The new american Dream," "I see you crying," "What is a Republican?" "Dear Mr. Bush," "Two Weeks of Marriage" (about a crush during GYLC), "Everything Begins and Ends in." (about the war in Iraq), and "Little Girls" (about gender-stereotypes). While it's all incredibly 16-year-old, there is one part of my anthology that I still read and think, Man, I was awesome!

This was my about the author page:

Colleen Ryan Heaney is
Sixteen-years old, for now.
An actor, a writer, and a superhero.

I <3 the 1920's, women's studies, English, politics, peace, computer graphics, photography, creating, and music.

I am incredibly adolescent,
I'm waiting not-so-patiently for this to change.
I am everchanging.
My myriad of outward appearances over the course of 3 years can vouch for that.
Southold is not my hometown, but I've made everyone think so.
Being a superhero, I take on extra-extracurriculars.
Because of this, everyone knows me.
I could get away with murder, but I pick my battles.
I'm old for my age.
I've learned a few of life's little secrets early.
Thoreau swore me to secrecy.
I used to be shy, but now I'm mostly and open book.
My skeletons sit on the front porch.
Why hide who you are?

There are a lot of little jokes in here--as well as little hints of my writer's voice that seem to never change. At the time, I was obsessed with mixed-metaphors and thought, when used consciously, they were hilarious. I still, knowingly, put a period in the middle of a sentence and continue it with a capitol letter for emphasis. Seriously. I do it all the time. I don't know why, but this just made my day.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Hosts on Photobooth

Katie and I built a fort on her bed in Northampton, Massachusetts. That or I found a purple canopy in the free box and then made her let me put it up over her bed--it could be viewed either way.

Caitlin and I in Jamaica Plain (Boston), Massachusetts.

This was the day she got into the Peace Corps and much celebrating was done!

Moseph and I at his (and Annr and Rachel Brown's) apartment in Philly.

Cassie and I in Plattsburgh, New York.

Everything is classier in black and white.

Not sure this counts, but it's too good not to include. Cassie and I on Skype while she's in Plattsburgh and I am in Philly.