Category Archives: Relationship

Wedding Cake for All

Yesterday was a good day.  I woke up to the news that SCOTUS had ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage.   And while the ruling doesn’t change my life in any real way, it does give many of my friends the same rights that many of us take for granted simply for having been born straight.

I decided that I had to do something to help celebrate this day.  I didn’t know what might happen, given gay marriage has been legal in California in June 2013, but I had the idea to go to the Santa Clara County offices and hand out cupcakes to newlywed couples.  If someone was eloping today in celebration, they deserved the best part of weddings:  cake.

24 Cupcakes and a Pentax Camera

Banana for scale.

Given that the SCC Wedding Chapel was going to close at 3:40, I realized I didn’t have time to bake the cupcakes myself, so I got a tray of beautiful rainbow-colored cupcakes from Safeway, grabbed my camera in case anyone didn’t have someone taking pictures, and headed to downtown San Jose.

With the help of some employees, I found the wedding chapel, located adjacent to the cafeteria.  The first thirty minutes or so were rough–I almost gave up. honestly.  A news crew from NBC Bay Area showed up, thinking like I had that there would be a line of people getting married.  They left within a few minutes.

Cupcakes with Sign

You’d never know I used to do graphic design…

I decided to give it fifteen more minutes, and I’m so glad I did.  I got to witness four couples getting ready to get married yesterday (I didn’t actually enter the chapel).  I had positioned myself near the entrance of the chapel at one of the cafeteria tables.  It was a little awkward at first–I was just sitting there, and several people just assumed I was waiting for another wedding.

Eventually, the universe smiled and someone asked me what the cupcakes were all about.  And I explained to them what I was hoping to do: bring a little wedding cake joy to anyone getting married on this historic day.

The idea was a hit, and I almost started crying.  After that, everything just kind of flowed perfectly.  I met four couples yesterday, some opposite-sex, some same-sex, all super happy to be getting married that day.  I’m actually on the official camera rolls of one of the couples, which was so fun.

Happy couple at wedding.

Super happy couple!

I wanted to share this with you all simply because it was fun.  And appreciated.  Small gestures as allies can go a long way toward showing people how much others care.  Pride is happening up in San Francisco this weekend, and I’m sure it’s going to be one of the most amazing on record.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to take part, but being around yesterday’s couples totally filled a need to be outside doing something that I didn’t realize I had been missing.  It’s been a whirlwind couple weeks of events for our nation, between the events Charleston and SCOTUS’ decisions on the ACA and FHA.  I’ve been outside my bubble of close friends and family, so going out and doing something fun simply for the sake of doing it was refreshing.  And seeing the joy of the happy couples getting married (and enjoying cake–who doesn’t love cake??) was so worth it.

Bride eats cupcake.

The speed with which she ate this cupcake was inspiring.

Let’s be real, the upholding of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage (or, as we should probably call it, marriage) isn’t going to “fix” the discrimination LGBTQIA individuals face on a daily basis, in the same way that having a black president didn’t end racism.  Multiple states still have no laws protecting the aforementioned individuals from being fired based on their sexual orientation.  But yesterday was a step toward making a large portion of the US population feel like accepted citizens of our country.  One good friend expressed her feelings as “overwhelming,” that she now felt like a full citizen of our country by being given the legal ability to marry the woman she loves.  And yes, this friend is in California, where she could legally have done this since 2013.  But there is something amazing about the knowledge that your marriage options aren’t limited by the state you live in, that all people who feel as you do have the same right to marriage as any heteromonogamous couple.

This isn’t the first major decision on who can marry whom this country has gone through.  Anti-Miscegenation laws in the United States weren’t officially deemed unconstitutional  until 1967 in Loving v. Virginia.  Spanning from all non-whites in several southern states, to laws specifically including Blacks, Asians, and Native Americans in countless others, anti-miscegenation laws are generally recognized as racist today (though trust me, there are many exceptions).  But these laws were justified with the Bible in the same way that laws against same-sex marriage have been justified my whole life.

Photo of couple at Nevada/California border.

Two places at once!

I can’t fully understand the joy so many of my friends yesterday.  And while yes, my partner and I do sometimes get dirty looks when we’re out together, I generally go from day-to-day without my current relationship being questioned by anyone (in fact, generally it’s pretty encouraged).  But knowing that even fifty years ago, that wouldn’t have been the case (hell, it wouldn’t have even been legal), breaks my heart.

I could talk about the separation of church and state, or Judao-Christian values.  I could be an utter snob and translate some biblical Hebrew or Greek to show off my MA knowledge.  But trust me, it doesn’t work.  Instead, I’m choosing to focus on the looks on the faces of brides and grooms I saw yesterday, the joy that literally radiated off of them.  I’ll focus on those friends who expressed relief for finally feeling a part of this crazy project we call America.  And I’ll feel grateful that a small step was made toward improving the quality of life of so many families across our country, families who will now have inheritance rights, death benefits, health insurance, and access to most of the basic economic and social rights so many of us take for granted.

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Thoughts on Not Being Vegetarian (in California)

I need to admit something to all of you:  I’m in a mixed relationship.

You see… sometimes, I eat meat.  My partner… well, he’s a lifelong vegetarian.

I’ve dabbled in vegetarianism for years, sometimes for ethical reasons, more often for health reasons.  Most days, I prefer getting my protein from plant-based sources, finding I feel healthier on days my stomach isn’t weighed down with animal parts.

And then, about once a year, I have a Ron Swanson-level squee-fest over the mere idea of a steak.

Thanks http://nbcparksandrec.tumblr.com/ for the perfect visual.

Thanks http://nbcparksandrec.tumblr.com/ for the perfect visual.

This preference toward vegetarianism is on a moving spectrum, from complete vegetarianism in high school to having chicken and turkey in the house during most of grad school.  The last year or two has been mostly a “I don’t have meat in the house, but sometimes I eat it out” sort of situation.

So where’s my “so what?’ of this post?  Let me tell you a story.

As of today, I’ve been living in California for a month.  San Jose, to be specific.  And I’ve noticed a few differences between my current home and where I live 9 months out of the year:  gas and groceries are way higher priced, diversity is actually a thing here, annnd there are usually way more vegetarian items on a menu (complete with being able to eat my body weight in avocado – yay!).

While I may not be ethically/religiously vegetarian, my partner is.  So while I honestly will eat whatever you put in front of me (including hákarl with a brennivín chaser while attending a conference in Iceland), I’ve learned to be more mindful of scouting out vegetarian options (don’t even get me started on being on the lookout for hidden gelatin and chicken broth…) when we go out.

And we’ve had some pretty good food the last month.  By far, my favorite find has been the Haute Enchilada in Moss Landing, whose vegetarian/vegan and seafood options are truly top-notch.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a trend when we order food.  I do say trend, as at this point, it’s happened multiple times.  The first couple times, I chalked it up to the server mixing up seats on an order.  Or the fact that often, a second person (not our server) would bring our food to the table.  No big deal.

But then it kept happening.  The most recent example was when we went out for pho on Saturday.  We’ve found a lovely place near us that does a decent vegetarian pho, which I’d ordered the first time we went.  But this time, I was feeling seafood.  I’m from the Chesapeake.  For me, seafood is generally always going to win over a vegetarian option.

So we’re sitting there, munching on vegetarian spring rolls when our food comes out.  The gentleman carrying our food announces “vegetarian?” and before we can answer begins putting it down in front of me.

Actually, no, thank you, that delicious bowl of seafood is mine, thanks.

So what’s going on here?  I’ve come up with a two options.  Either

  • there still is an inherent bias that women are more likely to be vegetarians than men, or
  • given my partner’s height, people assume that he can’t be vegetarian.

This second option has actually come up repeatedly.  People legitimately think that if you’re tall, you must eat meat.  When visiting family in India, people actually vocalized on several occasions that my partner must eat meat in America because there’s no way he could be that tall otherwise.

If I really wanted to make this article even more confusing, I could add in an entire side adventure about misconceptions in the West about Indians and vegetarianism.  But it seems that conceptions about size, masculinity, and vegetarianism, at least with what I have encountered, trump the “all Indians are vegetarians” myth (though you would think the conflicting perceptions would at least make servers pause before automatically plunking down a bowl of veggies in front of me).

I’m laughing to myself as I sit here thinking about all of this–in California.  In the Bay Area.  You know, the part of the US that all of us East Coast snobs refer to as “crunchy,” “granola,” “organic,” and high on its own smug (thanks Matt and Trey).  If any place were going to be openminded about vegetarianism, this would be it, right??

The good news is, through all of this, I’m having to rethink my preconceptions about living on the West Coast.  Yeah, there might be more vegetarian options (and yes, the aforementioned avocado comment is real – you really can get avocado added to anything) out here on the Left Coast, but male vegetarians still confuse people (apparently).

Which is intrinsically ridiculous.  I started doing some research and came up with some things, including a website devoted to vegan bodybuilders and this list of famous vegetarians (including Sir Paul, Mike Tyson, Ben Franklin, and, of course, Gandhiji).  I even found this really interesting article about Griff Whalen, a wide receiver for the Indianapolis Colts who decided to go vegan for health reasons.  Just read this excerpt from the article:

Despite the health benefits and Whalen’s decided push for such a diet, being a vegan is not the most popular move to make in the NFL. The few other players who have professed plant-only diets have riled up fans, media pundits and even teammates.

They’ll ruin the team’s chances of a winning season. They’ll be weaker on the field. They’ll get tackled and outplayed more easily. Meat is a must for the NFL. Protein. Manly food. To eat plants-only is foolish for a football player.

So yeah, there definitely seems to still be a misconception here about size, strength, and the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet.  And of course, we can debate all day about size, strength, and whether or not vegetarianism affects either.  But the bias really seems to be clearly on the side of “of course you can’t be big and strong only eating plants.”  Unless, of course, you’re Popeye.

Notice he's not standing up straight...

Notice he’s not standing up straight…

So does what I’ve been witnessing at restaurants really come down to this continued belief?  Does it really just come down to the 15-inch height difference between myself and my partner?

I have no idea.  But it keeps happening.  And every time, I roll my eyes, and my (far more) gracious partner smiles and tells the waiter “No, actually I’m the vegetarian.”

And then I chow down on the souls of recently departed shellfish, preferably slathered with all the avocado the kitchen has.

Shellfish that, from what I’ve been told, apparently isn’t kosher