Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Semantically Separate but Equal

Semantics are a bitch. They create such schisms in today’s world that have polarized the populations of the earth into those for or against (insert issue here). Most recently, the issue of the fundamental civil right of two persons to form an official civil union in the eye of the state has made its way to the US Supreme Court. Wait, you say, that right already exists. Ah, this is where semantics enter the game. Try this fragment: “the fundamental civil right of two persons to marry in the eye of the state.”  The above statement sounds perfectly fine also, but when you change that to “the fundamental civil right of two persons of the same sex to marry in the eye of the state,” shit hits the proverbial fan. But what if you were to say “the fundamental civil right of two persons of the same sex to form an official civil union in the eye of the state”? Confused? So is the rest of the world.

First, a little history. The concept of marriage is as old as society. The word is more recent, Middle English originating from Latin 1 2. Before the word marriage was coined, union was the oft used term. A union is a binding of people, things or ideas to a common goal. Marriage at its beginning meant basically the same thing, but the roots of the word come from the words for woman and man. Marriage, as we understand it, is end result of the traditional ceremony that joins two people via an appropriately vested religious figure. Now, throw homosexuality in the mix and, again, shit hits the proverbial fan. That’s because religious teachings tell us that it is “an abomination for one man to lie with another as he would a woman” 3 and that marriage is a sacrament designed to produce new little children of God through the sanctioned sin of sex between heterosexuals 4. Therefore, an abomination in the eyes of God simply cannot be married under God. Hence why so many people are opposed to gay marriage.

However, we are also taught that “all things, great and small, are God’s creations” and that we should “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Archbishop Gregory Aymond sums this up pretty well: “People of the same sex attraction, we love them as God’s people, we want to be in community with them, but we very much disagree on marriage for people of the same sex.” 5 So, if I understand this correctly, homosexuals were created by God and Jesus said to love them. But it’s not cool for them to marry because marriage involves sex and procreation, which is an abomination and not physically possible, respectively. Well, that’s quite understandable in a religious way. As a non-religious person, I can even respect your position in as much as it’s a core belief and you’re sticking to it.

My first concern with this whole hullabaloo is that one set of people is denying another set of people the right to a legal union. My second concern is in the semantics: by using the word marriage, the question of civil rights is taken out of the courtroom and into the church. Marriage is a civil union with the extra step of being blessed by God. Using the term “gay marriage” is offensive for people who believe in the traditional meaning of the word marriage, generally Christians, who will fight to keep the sanctity of this meaning. I really wonder, had it been coined as “gay union,” if there would not be such uproar over the issue. Think about it: the LGBT community is simply asking for the same civil rights as any civil union between two people. They’re not asking for God Himself to bless these civil unions, just the courts. Where’s the civil harm in that?

Ah, the harm is the fact that we live in a country that people insist is Christian founded and governed, even though the original Constitution was very careful not to promote one religion over another. 6 7 8 Then they insist that allowing gays a legal civil union will destroy the institution of marriage, by calling it marriage, and harm their children. Instead, this should be taken as an excellent learning tool. We can teach our children that love really does conquer all. That freedom is worth fighting for. That everyone can be happy. But most importantly, we can teach future generations to respectfully disagree with another person without denying their civil rights.

We as a people have no right to deny another person their rights because we don’t agree with who they are. I believe one day all people will have equal rights, but as history has shown us, that equality doesn’t happen instantly and certainly not without a fight.


3 Leviticus 18:22
4 tp://
6 (First Amendment)
7" (section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Before & After: Side Table

I’m currently remodeling my room. New paint, furniture, accessories. Since I’m on a budget, I opted not to get the nightstand that matches my new bedroom furniture. So I decided that I didn’t need a table since the dresser would be all of two feet from my bed. But I really wanted to do a pendant light next to the bed, and that would just look silly without having something to shine on.

Fortunately, Providence was smiling down on me. I happened to accompany my mom on a job, who happened to bring some trash to the dumpster, which happened to have this cherry stained Queen Anne style pedestal side table sitting next to it. I thought it was ugly at the time, and it was a little wobbly, but we loaded it in the truck anyways. After the table sitting in the den for a week, the proverbial light bulb turned on. I needed a nightstand, but cherry was the wrong color for my room, so why not paint it to match?! (My room and two part bathroom each have a shade of bluish-grey to greyish-blue color, in light, medium and dark) To add a pop of monochromatic color to my room, I decided to paint the table the darkest blue as it would be sitting next to the middle blue accent wall.

The refinishing process took just three days. Well, three evenings of work and two days of drying. Day One: lightly sand, Gorilla Glue the screw post back in place, and paint the first coat. Day Two: paint the second coat. Day Three: put felt pads on leg bottoms and bask in my brilliance. At this point the only downfall was that I used high-gloss paint, so everything stuck to the surface. Solution? Round rattan placemat in a similar color pattern! I made sure to bring my color samples so I could match or contrast the placemat correctly.

The result is perfect! It’s big enough for a book and bottle of water while being a complementary contrasting accent to the d├ęcor. Complementary as it is within the same color scheme of the walls. Contrasting as the Queen Anne and painted style is opposite of my Espresso stained Transitional style furniture. It’s fun and chic without being outrageous so.
What do you think?

Monday, March 11, 2013

From Clutterbug to Neatfreak

I am a recovering clutterer. Yes, there is such a thing. I have hoarding tendencies that I fight against daily. I also have a bit of an OCD problem. Growing up, I was a messy kid, shoving toys under my bed, leaving piles of stuff on my floor. But there was always a path and I generally knew where everything was. As I got older, I accumulated more stuff until I have more belongings in storage boxes than I had out being used. I didn’t understand where this was a problem until the last time I moved and we needed a small U-Haul to carry 3 pieces of small furniture and all of my boxes of stuff. Finally, it sank in that I had a problem and that I needed to do something about it.
My transformation began two years ago when I moved in with my parents. I realized that I needed to lower my “stuff footprint.” All fine and good but where do I start? I had so much stuff I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume. After mostly settling in, I found a box, a box of stuff that hadn’t found a home yet, and I decided to go through this box. And so I found my goal to go through one box, bag, drawer, bin and shelf at a time to minimize its contents. I would do my cleaning chores on Saturday morning weekly. I would start going through my closet monthly and pulling out clothes and shoes to pass on. Once I had these goals in mind, I was ready to take it to the next step.
One of the more difficult aspects of organizing is figuring out how to organize to your advantage. I know I’m a visual person so I needed to organize with clear or open containers and color order. Before I ran out to buy boxes and bins, I evaluated my belongings and how they should be stored. Shoes went into clear plastic shoeboxes that now stack neatly in the closet. Winter gear is in a plastic bin that can easily be tossed in the attic or hall closet during the summer. While my file cabinet is in the closet, out of sight, I have a ladder shelf with my pre-filing open top bins, one for receipts, to-be-filed, and important papers. My closet clothes are arranged in type order then color order, ex. sleeveless then short-sleeved then long-sleeved, each in color order. My dresser clothes are arranged by most used in the top drawers, like sock and t-shirts, to least used in the bottom, like my very nice collection of exercise clothes. In the bathroom, hair supplies and toiletries go under the main sink while facial care and cleaning supplies go under the extra sink because I use those objects at the different sinks. So that’s how I organize.
Now the hardest part of all of this is maintaining the clean. Fortunately for me, though I may be a clutterer, I also have OCD tendencies. Which means once my room is clean, it’s much easier to keep it that way because of the compulsion to keep it clean. This is easily done with starting the day by making the bed as soon as I get out of it. Acts as a burst of energy and discourages me from sneaking back into bed! After that, everything goes back in its place, wherever it came from. Shoes back in the shoeboxes in the closet, coat on the hanger, keys on hook, phone on desk. After washing sheets and clothes, the sheets immediately go back on the bed and the clothes get folded and put away. If I can’t fold them right away, I at least lay out the hanging items so that they don’t get wrinkled. My main rule is that all clothes must be put away appropriately before bed. This rule is a lifesaver for me; otherwise I’d have clothes hanging and hiding all over the place!
While it sounds like I have this clean room thing down pat, truth is I can mess it up in a heartbeat. It seems like one day of not picking up suddenly becomes a week’s worth of stuff sitting on my floor. After I blitz-clean, I remind myself that a few minutes picking up before bed could have saved me a few hours worth of cleaning. I also remind myself of this every time I’m tempted to leave my clothes on the chair. I don’t want to be a clutterer. In fact, I hate having the compulsion to cover every square inch of flat space available in my room. I noticeably avoid my room when it’s messy and seek sanctuary when it’s clean. So I fight against the clutter; sometimes I win, sometimes I lose. What matters to me is that I win more than I lose. What can I say? I’m human!