For My Girls

Oh, we said our dreams will carry us
And if they don’t fly we will run
Now we push right past to find out
Oh, how to win what they all lost

Oh ah, oh ah
We know now we want more
Oh ah, oh ah
A life worth fighting for. – Santigold, “Disparate Youth”

Texas state senator Wendy Davis’s filibuster. The death of DOMA and Prop. 8. People standing tall for equality and autonomy. It was a great day.

We aren’t done.

Because the “T” in GLBTAP is so misunderstood, and the “P” hardly recognised at all, we aren’t done.

Because the attacks on female bodily autonomy will never stop taking new forms, we aren’t done.

Because marriage is not the only issue with regard to GLBTP prejudice, we aren’t done.

Because there are still people who shout with joy at the death of DOMA and excoriate Paula Deen, and champion equality, who then turn around and casually drop “retarded,” “retard,” “fucking retard,” or “fucktard” into conversation without seeing their hypocrisy, or suggest that the disabled are better off dead, we aren’t done.

The work has been strong, and today we should cheer. We should celebrate. But we should remember that we aren’t done yet.

There is much to be done. Let’s go do it.

Fourth and Third

A long, long time ago, before children, autism, and general absent-mindedness kicked in this was a travel blog. Getting back to that for a bit, and I must say it has been a phenomenal year to be on the road.

In January we found extra-cheap fares and an inexpensive car rental on the island nation of Malta. February was a week in Belgium, road-tripping about after taking the ferry from England to Zeebrugge. March was southern England and Shakespeare’s birthplace; in April I was able to escape to Amsterdam for a solo weekend with an old friend. We drank all the beer and ate all the Gouda. Not even sorry. June was spent recovering from May’s adventure: a two-week cruise on the Baltic Sea. July and August will see us returning to the United States for three weeks to see family.

And in October, the girls and I will hit a huge milestone: our fourth (me and Maggie) and third (Moira) continent, respectively. We are heading off to Marrakech and the Atlas Mountains in northern Africa.

We have done about 80% of what we want to do in Europe on our must-see list before we leave the UK (visas extended to 2016! Woo!), so this is just the beginning of our planned travels in northern Africa. Tunisia is on the list for next year, and of course we will have to see Egypt. We also want to branch out into the Middle East: Israel, Jordan. So much to see and do! I think there is also another cruise in our future, back in Europe: the Adriatic coast is calling us.

I have no idea where we will move next; if we will stay in the field or return to the U.S. or what our family plans will be. Much depends on other things and people. Maggie’s and Moira’s needs are the first priority, and it is hard to know what the future will require of them. But no matter what happens, I’m proud of what we’ve done here. I’m proud that at least for a while, we were and are a family of world travelers. The girls may not remember exact details, but they will remember the lifestyle and the enthusiasm with which we showed them–and with which they embraced-the world.

To the fourth and third we go.

That’s A-Moira

It’s 9:10am and Moira is still asleep, which is a bit surprising for a kid who goes from asleep and drooling to popping out of her crib like a jack-in-the-box in less than 10 seconds. Maggie, prematurely teenage in her sleep habits, often sleeps until 9 or 10am if there are no morning obligations to be met. Tom bemoans the fact that they NEVER do that on the weekend when he has morning duty, and I’m surprised it’s taken him almost 8 years of living with me to figure it out: his home-cooked breakfasts are awesome and Pinterest-worthy, whereas mine (strawberry smoothies aside) are not worth the time it takes to sit up and put on pants.

I digress. Moira is still asleep. I’ve said this before, but that sleepy, lazy newborn who fell asleep on whoever was holding her? No more.  God forbid that there is a party to which Moira is not invited or something she might be missing. In a house of two extreme introverts and a dad who straddles the fence, Moira is a standout super-extrovert. On our recent cruise it took us forever to leave the dining room because Moira had to stop at each table and say goodbye to everyone. There are no strangers in Moira’s world–just new friends.

She has maybe two dozen words and loves to play games. Specifically, she likes to wrestle and jump on people and ride them like ponies. She also will happily scale any furniture to get what she wants. Her tenacity and utter unwillingness to acknowledge reprimands have made our lives very interesting indeed. Moira’s a clever one and while she cannot quite speak yet, she has no trouble making her opinion known.

Tom experienced this on the cruise while Maggie was napping. He had taken Moira to the stage area where the performers were rehearsing. Moira decided something wasn’t right and led Tom by the hand to the buffet area next door. She then pointed to the hand sanitizer at the entrance while grunting “Dis! Dis!” Tom sanitized. Moira again took him by the hand to the tea station, where biscuits and scones were waiting.

“Up!” she brayed. He lifted.

“Dis! Dis!” she pointed. He fixed her a plate of biscuits. She nodded and led him back out (asking him to sanitize on his way out too) to the rehearsal area, whereupon she made herself comfortable with her afternoon tea and entertainment.

That’s Moira. Utterly determined, noisier than an angry donkey. She doesn’t yell. She brays in this deep booming voice that sounds hilarious coming from a little redheaded elfin face and spends all day humming “Ummmm um ummmm um!” like a revving car engine. Her smile comes in three modes: “Is this gonna be worth the trouble I get into?” “WORTH IT” and “Oh, don’t be like that. You know you love me.”

Who, me? But I’m so ANGELIC.

I’ve read this adage about boys, but it holds truer for Moira than any kid I’ve known: Moira is noise covered in dirt. Nothing that is worth doing is worthwhile if you can’t roll in it and rub it in your hair. We went to a messy play session sponsored by the town children’s centre and she not only was the first to run up and down the “Paint with your feet” station, but she then rolled in the paint and then rolled in Jell-O twice with some cornstarch for good measure. I routinely marvel at so-called “washable” paints and markers and the unwillingness of their ink to come off her fine skin. The most common thought I have when picking her up is “OMG STICKY.”

Moira is a life force. She’s a way of living. She demands that you love her, that you go along with whatever scheme she has planned, and digs her hands in deep into whatever she does and gets dirty. She’s that friend with the wild ideas who gets out of trouble every time because she’s such a charming little con artist. It’s hard to be mad at her for combing her hair with a fork covered in pancetta-tomato sauce because five seconds later she’ll pop a piece of pasta in her mouth and roll her eyes up with theatrical affect, clasping her hands to her chest and grinning like “This. THIS. This is the BEST PASTA IN THE HISTORY OF PASTA.” You just can’t help but be excited along with her. And she’s like that ALL THE TIME. Everything, every new experience (save swimming) and new person, is the best thing in the history of things.

That’s a-Moira. And oh, God, I hope she never changes.