Saturday, June 27, 2015

June 26, 2015: Historic day for equality in the USA!

Image via Newsweek

Yesterday - June 26, 2015 - was a history day for civil rights, equality, and LGBT rights in the USA.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the USA ruled that everyone has a right to marry.

Many of us knew the decision was to be announced yesterday, and along with millions of others worldwide, I awaited the decision. I wish I could have been downtown (I currently live in Washington, DC - capital of the USA, home of the Supreme Court and the White House, pictured above) with the revelers, but when the decision was announced, I was alone in my office at my day job. I started crying when I learned the news. Friends and family called, texted, and emailed throughout the day, and I went around crying and hugging my co-workers. When I came out nearly 20 years ago, I never imagined I'd see this day in my lifetime. This is an amazing victory and I think June 26 should become a national queer/LGBTQ holiday!

All kinds of wonderful support was evident yesterday, and continues to be so. Last night the White House, home of President Barack Obama and the First Family, lit up in rainbow lights in support of the decision - pictured above.

This post has nothing to do with mail, but it has so much to do with my life, and I had to share the joy. As I have mentioned before (see "I'm a day late for National Coming Out Day" or the labels gay or transgender for more info), my husband Alex is transgender and I am bisexual; we identify as a queer couple, not straight. We are legally married already, but that is really only through luck. Alex happened to be born in a state that, for a certain period of time, allowed folks to change their birth certificates, and he got his birth certificate changed at the right time to allow us to marry legally. This would not have been possible if he hadn't been able to change his birth certificate, and if he hadn't been able to jump through all the hoops to change his gender legally from female to male, on the right documents (birth certificate, driver's license, passport, etc: a different process for all). I'm not going to go into all the details about that, but we were one of the few queer couples who was lucky enough to achieve that legal status. Yesterday that right was granted to all couples in love in the USA, regardless of gender - no more discrimination. All our friends and loved ones can marry if they wish, and those who have already married in states that previously allowed it will now be granted all the federal benefits, and their marriages must be recognized all across the country... even in the states that had previously explicitly banned and refused to recognize their unions.

Please join me in celebrating this occasion that holds immeasurable joy!

UPDATE: It is worth noting that just moments after my tweet about this blog post, I received my first homophobic hate tweet. It is hardly that bad, but it is noteworthy nonetheless. We are going to see a lot of backlash to this decision from those haters. Haters gonna hate. Buckle your seatbelts, because we are in it for the long ride.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

India releases International Day of Yoga stamp

Thanks to PhilatelyNews on Twitter, I've just learned about this FANTASTIC new stamp release from India: International Day of Yoga stamp.

June 21 was recently declared International Yoga Day by the UN General Assembly. I may not write about it very often on this blog (if at all?), but yoga is another of my favorite hobbies, or perhaps better stated, lifestyle and fitness habits; I've been practicing yoga seriously for about 5 years now. So I was extremely excited to see this stamp release that showcases an essential part of India's heritage (and I recognize here that India comprises many different cultures!)... which also happens to be something that has changed my life and health.

Also, it's a lovely stamp! I actually like the selvage around the stamp even better than the stamp itself, particularly the colorful representation of the various asanas, or poses. I am also delighted that they kept the figure on the stamp gender-neutral. Yoga is for everyone, and for every body.

If any of my blog readers are in India and would be willing or able to send me mail with this stamp, please let me know! I'd love to do an exchange. I'd be so excited to see this stamp in person!

Does anyone else know of some cool yoga stamps out there?

UPDATE: Philatelist blog-reader Albrecht shared this other yoga series from India, 1991 issue.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Thinking of my grandfather on Father's Day

My grandfather the postal worker dials stamps

Happy Father's Day! Today I am thinking a lot of my grandfather, of blessed memory. That's him in the photo above (read the great "Dialing for stamps" story): he was a career postal worker, and a casual philatelist and stamp collector. I think a great deal of my love for stamps and postal service trivia must have come from him. Certainly a lot of my vintage stamps did come from him: he gave me his stamp collection a little before he died. He didn't mind that I use some of the stamps for postage, he just wanted the collection to go to someone who would appreciate it.

He passed away 6 years ago. I am so thankful for all the time we had together, and that I wrote him a lot of letters, particularly in his later years. My mother and I cleaned out his house after his death (he had lived in that house for 50 years!), and along with a great deal of postal memorabilia, I had the joy of finding a lot of my letters to him stored in the drawers right next to his favorite chair, where he spent the vast majority of his time... he clearly took them out and re-read them frequently. I was so touched that they meant so much to him. (I've lived halfway across the country from him, and the rest of my family, for all of my adult life.)

You can read more posts about my wonderful postal-worker, stamp-collecting grandpa, but in the meantime, I hope all the fathers out there - both mail-loving and otherwise - have a great day. I am very thankful that my own father is in good health and happiness, and I'm going to call him shortly.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Coming full circle: a transition back to music

I hinted in a previous post that there were changes afoot, and now is the time to share some personal information. I've held back from sharing professional information on my blog, because this is a hobby blog and I have felt strongly that it's important to keep that part of my life separate. I still feel that way to some degree, but I have some big changes coming and I would like to share them.

When I began this blog in 2008, I was, professionally, a musician and music teacher. I'm not going to bog this post down with too many details, but for a variety of reasons, when we moved to Washington, DC in 2013, I had to give that up for a while and work a non-music, non-teaching office job. It was more challenging than I had imagined, and I think that was a big part of why I had such a hard time with DC. I am sure that my distaste for Our Nation's Capital is in many ways my transferring my dissatisfaction with my life here to a dislike for the city itself. Regardless, I have been unhappy in DC, and DC will soon be in my past. I'm thrilled to be able to be returning to music in the fall, when I will return to my alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, for graduate school. We're moving back up to New England in a couple of months (HOORAY!) and I will be a full-time grad student. I hope to return to performing and teaching in the future, once I am a Master of Music. (What a strange term, but I'll play with those words.)

I am a classically-trained improvisational singer, and I explore many styles including jazz. If you are interested in taking a look and a listen, here are a couple of links from two of my favorite performances in the past couple of years: Both of the arrangements are my own, as are all the performances in each of those video playlists. In the future I hope to have a professional website to share, with more recordings and videos.

The next few months are going to be a big time of transition for me, as we do a long-distance move and I switch from working in an office full-time to being a music grad student full-time. I am looking forward to this change more than I can possibly put into words, so I won't even try to articulate it. I do hope to continue with this blog and all my mail habits as best I can, though I may be exploring the possibility of ads on this blog. I will apologize again for posting less than I had hoped throughout the past year - auditioning for grad school took up a lot of time and energy, and I kept that under my hat for a long time! - and I thank all my blog readers, both longtime and newcomers, for staying with me through the journey.

In the meantime, I'll keep writing letters and postcards, and I promise - the next post will be back on track and mail-related!