Saturday, May 12, 2012

May As Well Try And Catch The Wind

Our Wedding Cake Topper, 1983
The good citizens of North Carolina have defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman. A union between one single man and one single woman is still called fornication. The definition of marriage is now firmly spackled onto the state Constitution, which only makes sense. The North Carolina state Constitution is exactly where I go to look up words, and I've always been foggy about that one. I get it mixed up with that thing in the desert where you think you see something, but it turns out to be an illusion. A lot of marriages are like that.

I've only been to North Carolina once, when I was a teenager. Dad bundled us all into the Volvo and drove us down to the Outer Banks to see the total eclipse of the sun. It was fabulous, it was divine. The sun grew dimmer and darker and then it went black except for the little light ridgy bits on the outside, which astronomers call the "tiara." I'd just learned how to play guitar and that's what I was doing while we were waiting for the sun to act up. I was probably playing "Suzanne" by Leonard Cohen. It only had four chords. Leonard Cohen was thought to be a great songwriter due to his inability to sing. We all thought it was a dreamy and cool song, because she touched your perfect body with her mind. We didn't really know what that meant, but poets were always writing about their minds back then, when we still had them.

There were lots of warnings about looking directly into the sun. You were supposed to punch pinholes into a shoebox so you could see a projection of the progression of the moon across the sun. Of course, if that's what you drive 300 miles to see, you could just stay home and look up a diagram in a book. I stared right at the bugger, and I'm glad I did. I will always remember it. I will always remember it because I still see a ribbon of dots in my vision from where it was burned into my retinas.

The Outer Banks of North Carolina are a series of long barrier islands that were put up to keep the ocean out.  They scrabbled themselves up sometime after the last Ice Age, although nobody's really clear how. If they hadn't existed, the good citizens of North Carolina could always have written them into their Constitution. The ocean is big and powerful and scary and it is only proper of the citizenry to protect itself from it. The barrier islands work pretty well most of the time but they are prone to  destruction from hurricanes. There are more and stronger hurricanes all the time, and there will be until someone works up a good amendment about them.

North Carolina's new amendment was an important definition to put in the Constitution because the state of marriage is in disarray due to incursions from homosexual people who would just disappear if they weren't always being encouraged, and it needs to be protected, in the same way apple pie needs to be protected from nutmeg.

I have a constitution of my own, although it's just written down in what's left of my mind. And I've had to amend it to define North Carolina as a beautiful state I won't be visiting until the sun comes back. Which it will. You can't keep the sun from shining, and you can't stop a hurricane.

74 comments:

  1. I love the concept that North Carolina would have been forced to protect themselves from the sea though legislation, but were spared the effort because the Outer Banks popped up one day. Perhaps a short segment preventing obesity is also in order. And a few other things too - like persons with mental health issues. Legislate against them and they will all go away.
    Thanks Murr. Another brilliant post.

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    1. Mentally ill people should definitely be illegal, so we don't have to think about them anymore.

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  2. It's a darn good thing I wasn't taking a drink when I read, "I will always remember it because I still see a ribbon of dots in my vision." I'd have sprayed it all over my computer. I'm not sure that a North Carolina astronomer would be allowed to call any part of an eclipse a "tiara," though. That sounds awfully gay and might have resulted in a witch hunt.

    Seriously, though, this was a wonderful post, both thoughtful and chuckle-inducing. I am so repulsed by and fearful of those southern states that I won't even drive through them to get somewhere else.

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    1. I really do have a ribbon of dots in my vision. I fibbed a little about it being from the eclipse. For a couple days there, or maybe just one day, I sat in the back seat of the Studebaker facing backwards and stared at the setting sun until it slang back blue afterimages. Now my retinas are ruined and it's all because we didn't have seatbelts.

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  3. I always enjoy your mindful excursions, Murr. North Carolina also outlawed civil unions and domestic partnerships, too. For everybody, it seems. Hopefully we'll see some backlash, but until then I'll enjoy not visiting North Carolina either. :-)

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    1. Of course, you and I really don't have to go anywhere because we have it all right here.

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  4. I nearly always had to touch her perfect body with my mind 'cause she wouldn't let me touch it with my hands. I'm surprised North Carolina hasn't written that into their constitutional.

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  5. About a month ago a good ole boy in a monstrous pick-up truck slammed into my aunt and uncle's car in North Carolina as they were in the process of stopping for the night on their way home from Florida. So much for that constitutionally correct marriage, which until then had lasted almost 58 years. Now auntie's in the graveyard and uncle's in a skilled nursing facility hundreds of miles from anywhere he's ever called home. The local police cited my uncle for failure to yield, despite the fact that their official report (which I have seen) makes it clear the fault did not lie with him. It was just that Yankee state license plate that offended them, I guess.

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    1. Thanks, Murr. Sorry to clutter your blog with that--I did veer a bit off point, but I saw a connection at the time.

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  6. When I was a kid, we had a black ashtray. It really looked black, but when we looked at the sun through it, we saw a purple circle.

    Regarding the North Carolina dictionary, you might appreciate this. Some people have to complicate everything.

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    1. Well put, darling. I can only assume that these people think--oh never mind, they're not really thinking all that hard.

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  7. I've lost my brother to that god-forsaken place. We may not ever see one another again after this vote. Bummed by that, I am.

    @Linda I am so sorry about your aunt and uncle; and uncle gets cited-why am I not surprised by that determination ?~!

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    1. So you know how he voted? Did he move there?

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    2. @Lynda. Thank you. The term "adding insult to injury" does come to mind.

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  8. We are Yankees who have ended up living in southwestern Virginia and I won't even dabble one toe across our southern border into NC. In fact we plan to retire next year, in a state much further north. Would rather be sane and freezing up north than living surrounded by mindless southerners.

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    1. I was going to say that Virginia has its own problems. One of which is no longer me--I left at sixteen.

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  9. There are some states it's just embarrassing to live in I guess. North Carolina can now add themselves to that list.

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    1. They've got plenty PLENTY of company. They're just the only ones to do it this time around.

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  10. Excellent! Let's hope the hurricane of change blows through in our lifetime.

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    1. P.S. Beautiful hair, by the way!

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    2. It will. Unless you're, like, 95.

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  11. Standing ovation, my dear Murr! Oh, that subtle weaving of the North Carolina/Leonard Cohen/eclipse thread with the Outer banks/scary ocean strand, and the constitution/marriage line. And a ba-boom conclusion.

    Long may the Murr flag wave!

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  12. The awful language of Amendment One contained more than defining marriage. Worse, it stated that marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union recognized by the state. My Wednesday post mentioned some of the effects that this amendment will have. I am one angry North Carolina woman.

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    1. I'm in the bluest city there is. I rarely have to feel that isolated. I'm so sorry.

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    2. NCmountainwoman: That is an excellent article, so shared it on FB as I will share this delightful piece by Murr as soon as I finish reading the rest of the comments. Isn't distributing leaflets in church which tell voters how to vote a violation of IRS tax codes for non-profits?

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    3. I was wondering about that too.

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  13. Very thought provoking, as are most of your posts. As for this gay marriage issue, everyone should blame heterosexual couples because they are the ones who keep having gay babies! Ha!

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  14. Wouldn't it be fun to see how many of those NC legislators feel they are entitled to boink women who are not their wives? Marriage is a holy institution, but boys will be boys - wink, wink, nudge, nudge. A loving, committed relationship between two men or two women is indecent, but a legal tie between a promiscuous man and one woman is sacred. Yep, I don't want to live there either.

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    1. Was it the NC governor who "hiked the Appalachian Trail," or am I mixed up?

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    2. South Carolina, actually.

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  15. Shoot, I live in an embarrassing state too: Georgia. The whole damn south is embarrassing.
    sigh.....
    And I'm glad someone else doesn't know what the heck Leonard Cohen is talking about. I just discovered him a couple of years ago, saw him in Atlanta---one of the best shows I've ever seen. But I don't know what a lot of his songs/poems are about.

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    1. I've never been to Georgia. I'd like to go. Hopscotching from one good person like yourself to another, of course.

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  16. I, like Carolyn (NCmountainwoman - love her blog!), am a resident of the fair state of North Carolina. While Greensboro, the city where I live voted no on Amendment One, the rural counties overrode us the same way they kept doing in the past with Jesse Helms. I think the Triad (where I live), the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) and Charlotte all voted against the amendment. Wonder if we can secede from the state or if we'll just have to wait for all those low information voters to die off. I'm afraid it's going to be the latter.

    The first words out of my 80 year old mother's mouth when she learned the amendment had passed was "Crap. Let's move to a more progressive state."

    Also, please go read Carolyn's blog posting about what happened here in North Carolina. It says it much better than I can: http://ncmountainwoman.blogspot.com/2012/05/matter-of-civil-rights-not-marriage.html

    I think Carolyn and I both love our adopted state very much but are struggling to understand the reasoning behind our "Christian" (note that I put that in quotation marks) brethren with this horrendous decision of theirs.

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    1. I'll be running right over to Carolyn's. Here too the cities are solid blue and the countryside is red, but our two biggest cities (Portland and Eugene) vastly outnumber the rest of the state in population and we run the show. It irritates the east side, and I'd probably feel the same way, but boo hoo.

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  17. If only it were just the Southern states where stupidity reigns. Minnesota (historically a very progressive state-as in Hubert Humphrey progressive), but we have a similar amendment on this November's ballot. I personally am ready to move to Europe.These zealots are turning the US into an evangelical christian theocracy.

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    1. You've got a weird state, politically. Wellstone and Ventura? What's going on?

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  18. Yes. What Carolyn says. A grievous error last Tuesday. I live here, too and I love my mountain home but sometimes it's hard. Lordie, but it's hard.
    My Abigail lives on the outer banks while earning her doctorate at Duke (taking care of fishes for the future and so forth) so she sees the good parts every single day. There's an eclipse on May 20. C'mon back and visit.

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    1. Total? Crum. I'd like to. But I just said I wouldn't. You'll have to see it for two.

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  19. North Carolina is a conundrum. A beautiful place with warm, friendly people. Terrific institutions of higher education and... Jerry Falwell. WTF?

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    1. Maybe I'm simple, but I keep thinking that people would vote differently on this issue if they just got out more.

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  20. Your wedding cake topper will always be remembered by the older two girls in our family. From the angle... I didn't recognize ET...

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    1. I think I finally threw it away after it emerged from a basement box all musty. It's the marriage that counts, right, not the souvenirs?

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  21. This is the kind of post I love best. The kind that sketches the outline of a topic by showing us some vines that wander in and out of it. And, now that you bring it up, it seems like I spent most of my childhood looking through a shoebox. I think I did it wrong, because I never really saw anything but the inside of the box.

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  22. I love NC and we have a lot of good blogging buddies and FB pals from there. Hubby #1 even lives there. I'd have to have a cabin in the mountains far away from everyone else in order to live there though. You capture the insanity beautifully and, as I said, I'm sharing on FB.

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    1. Thank you very much. I'm intrigued by the idea that NC is a place to stash husbands.

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    2. I thought all Exes were supposed to live in Texas?

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  23. Murr,

    As some one who calls NC home, we really need a laugh right now. Thanks for providing.

    Like most places, my state is a quilt, with some blue squares amidst the red. I'm proud that my mostly rural county voted against that embarrassing amendment.

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    1. Interesting. I wonder how the vote broke down?

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  24. Personally, I wish Northern Virginia could break off and go its own way too. Downstate is constantly making it an embarrassment to live here in the Old Dominion. Maybe I'm just simple, but I never could figure out why women didn't just sue the U.S. for our rights (life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) as guaranteed under the Constitution instead of messing around with the ERA. If the "good ole boys" in Richmond keep it up, we may yet have to resort to that tactic. Maybe Gays would like to join that suit? Elaine M.

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    1. Basically, Elaine, you live in Washington, D.C. At the pointy-headed part of Virginia.

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  25. Love your post, Murr, and I have no problem laughing at my home state of NC. However, I do find it disturbing that some of your readers have made this bigotry a southern problem. Thirty-one states have amended their constitutions to declare that marriage is between a man and a woman. Unless the South has cloned itself, this problem extends way beyond the south.

    What NC has done is draw attention to this problem yet again. By the way. Minnesota plans to vote on this issue this year. I'm not good at geography, but I'm pretty certain that Minnesota is not in the south.

    Until we face the reality that bigotry knows no geographical boundaries, we're simply going to engage in periodic indignation when homophobia slaps us in the face, balme on the south and then go on about our business secure in the myth that only those people practice bigotry. Thirty-one states down, only 19 more to go. This is a national issue, not a southern one and we need a national strategy to address it.

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    1. You are 100% correct. I hesitated to single out North Carolina, as it is only an accident that it was the only state voting on this issue on this go-around. This issue will be decided person by person, as more and more people begin to learn about each other. Not that it should be. It shouldn't even be up for a vote.

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  26. I have one child that is not married but is in a relationship that has produced a my only grandchild. This couple is accorded all the rights of a "married couple", because they are two different sexes. And no one asks for proof of marriage when one of them is in the hospital and the other wants to visit. Either one can claim the other as a spouse for insurance purposes.

    But all of this is not true for homosexual unions.

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    1. I've heard it's important to support heterosexual marriages because it's what's best for the children. So they must assume Dave and I would be good parents. Have they MET us?

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  27. I'm from NC & I was really sad last Tuesday when I found out the amendment had passed. I have a lot of friends still there who worked their patooties off to get the amendment to fail. And a lot of friends who "voted their conscience" & helped pass it.

    As much as I'd like to, I can't just write off the Southern Baptists of my youth. It's not as simple as separation of church & state with them. They earnestly believe they have to vote what THEY believe to be true. So until we're able to turn the tide & help them see that what they believe is false they'll still vote that way. What we need is a progressive Billy Graham!

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    1. They are mostly earnest, yes. And they think they are stemming the tide of homosexuality, because of course that's what anyone would choose given half the chance.

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    2. Yeah - it's the same mentality that thinks that teaching abstinence actually works. Sigh.

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  28. Dangit Murr, I always put nutmeg in my apple pie. Not too much, but I just think it needs it.

    I can't even put into coherent words how I feel about the marriage issue. I keep reminding myself that once upon a time, it was illegal for a white person to marry a black person. Thankfully that idiocy was overturned. I can only pray that this one will be too.

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  29. North Carolina. Where it's okay to marry your cousin. Just NOT your GAY cousin.

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  30. I keep thinking how sad it is that NC commemorates on it's Quarter what two guys from Ohio did on their shores - "First in Flight." Now this, it's not a confident state, is it? Afraid of human variation and insecure in itself.

    No one is at their best when they are fearful.

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  31. We have Crater Lake on our quarter, which was formed when Mt. Mazama blew up a few thousand years before (technically) the world began, according to some.

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  32. Well Mitt came out and declared that he believes marriage should be between one man and one woman... not like it used to be in his Mormon grand-dad's day; between one man and several women.

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    1. Good for Mitt. I await his reversal soon.

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