The World According to Tiff Sniff

Meandering ponderings and wonderings on the state of things.


A rewrite of part of the U.S. Supreme Court opinion from Loving v. Virginia, changing only any word currently referring to race to a word referring to sexual orientation:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the sexual classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious sexual discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of the same sex resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious sexual discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia (California/Florida) prohibits only homosexual marriages involving gay persons demonstrates that the sexual classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain Heterosexual Supremacy.

And no, I don't think "protecting the sanctity of marriage" qualifies as a legitimate overriding purpose.  There are far more important actions we can, and should, be doing to protect marriage, beginning with starting with our own marriages within in the church.

And I do see a great irony in the actions of the people of the state of California in this: for example, Ellen DeGeneres married her girlfriend Portia DiRossi in a lavish ceremony.  At the time, it was legal and sanctioned by the state.  Now that legality has been taken away, and guess what's left - the memory and the fact of the lavish ceremony.  In other words, the "sanctifying" part of the marriage.  So yes, homosexuals (for the time) can't legally marry in California, but they can still choose to commit to each other in a purely spiritual and emotional way.  And isn't that what really gets the pro-hetero-marriage crowd all in a tizzy?  

Why I voted for Obama

(Disclaimer: this post is ENTIRELY my opinion.  I understand, and respect, that there are others who voted, from their conscience as I did, in an entirely different way.  I understand that the underlying assumptions I have that led me to these conclusions may be different from yours.  

But I've been asked a few times over the last few days, and thought I'd post the reasons why.  

This isn't why I think you should have voted one way or another; it's why I voted the way I did.)

Because under President Bush and his advisors, Americans are less safe, less secure, less insured, less literate, and less free than before he took office.  (The Patriot Act, anyone?)

Because under President Bush, America has become the most hated nation in the world.

Because under the Republican model of deregulation of the economy, unscrupulous people took advantage of the trust of the American people and undermined our biggest strength.

Because I do believe that equal family rights, including marriage and adoption, should be available to all qualifying adults, regardless of sexual morality.

Because we (as conservatives) have insisted for years that it was bad for government to be big, increase taxes, and create social welfare programs; that if allowed to keep our money, we would address social issues privately.  But we've been given the chance and haven't done it.

Because our generation has the opportunity to help our government work to eradicate malaria and prevent AIDS around the world.

Because having a black president with a Kenyan father and an Arabic name will give us credibility among those with whom we need to work to eliminate terror around the world.

Because under President Bush we have increased the tax debt and trade deficit we will pass onto our children more than under any other single administration, and this done by an administration who won the White House on a platform in part promising smaller government, lower taxes, and less burden on future generations.

Because I'm ready for a change, and I don't think John McCain, as great as he is, was ready to break quite far away enough from the rest of the party to make any real strides away from what they've done for the last 8 years.

And lastly, because I'm tired of my faith being hijacked by the religious right and other conservatives who use the name of God and Christ to spread hatred, discrimination, and fear. 


So I'm debating whether or not to even post this.  Part of me thinks that I need to be polite, and respectful, and to let this pass without public comment.

Then another part of me says that I need to stand up publicly for what I believe.  So I'm composing it without a decision, as yet, as to whether or not I will publish it.

Sunday I walked out of church for the first time in my life.  And I have sat through some painful, horrible services.  But this week, I had the rug pulled out from under me - an emotional sucker-punch, as I put it in my facebook status.

Most of you probably know how I feel about the issue of gay rights, in particular the right to same-sex marriage.  On Sunday, our visiting preacher told us that only in a godless society could we think it's okay to vote in favor of gay marriage, abortion, or condom distribution.

So since I guess I'm godless, I got up and left.

Fortunately, there were a handful of other dissidents who had done the same, and we finished service in the parking lot, encouraging each other and commiserating.

I had a friend ask me tonight how I rationalize being a Christian with supporting gay marriage and adoption.  (This in response to a facebook status lamenting the absolute trampling of those rights that happened in the polls today.)  Here is what I told him: 

No, I understand. I believe, from what I read of Jesus' life, that he calls his followers to an absolute high standard of morality. Believers are called to hold each other accountable.

However, beyond our walls, he tells us to feed the poor, care for the sick, visit prisoners, etc. In other words, in my understanding, to make sure that everyone has the same quality of life that I do. Not to spend our time telling people how to live their lives. That's what he condemned the Pharisees for.

The legal right to marriage is very different from the sacrament. What the legal right entails are things like the right to decide medical care when your spouse is incapacitated, the right to have a shared health insurance, the right to inheritance, etc. Marriage is one of the most basic civil rights in America. People can marry who cannot legally enter a contract or stand trial. If two men or women want to make a legal commitment to one another, I feel like they should have the right to do so.

If we're worried about the "state of marriage" in America, we need to spend some time and energy dealing with the rampant divorce, adultery, abuse, neglect, etc., going on in hetero marriages in the church. Classic speck in your own eye, if you ask me.

In the meantime, the best way to show God's love is to give this community the same rights we would want and expect once they've decided to build a life together. A decision that we can't control one way or another, in the end.

I know not everyone agrees with me, and why, and I respect it. In contrast to those who would claim that true Christians must all be led to the same conclusions by the Spirit and march in lockstep, I've come to believe that the Spirit leads us to different convictions and conclusions so that many more things can be accomplished in the name of the Lord. After all, if we were all focused on the problem of abortion, then poverty or disease might not get any attention. If we all spend our energy building a children's ministry, and ignore the seniors at a church, the kingdom suffers. We need people willing to be passionate and committed and work in all areas. I think this is just part of that.

Anyway, this is a short summary, but I hope it helps. Regardless of the outcome we've seen tonight, I feel more optimistic about our ability, as a nation, to put differences aside and come together to confront the problems we're wading through now.

And so I'm watching to see what the fallout will be at our congregation.  I hope that this is a fluke - an example of a guest speaker not knowing his audience.  I'm not offended that his politics are different than mine, but that he chose to express his opinion in a way that denigrated and condemned my own, and in the process alienated a good number of people who were on the bubble, at Otter Creek to see what this Jesus character is all about.  Now they see that Jesus' followers are as hateful and judgmental as they'd heard.  They won't be back, I guarantee it.  This man has successfully driven them away from God, probably not what he thought he was doing with his lesson.

It hurt, on a personal level, because my beliefs have been informed by my faith and study in Christ, and not in the least by influence from any "godless" source, whatever that is.

In the end, I think that human dignity is one of God's primary concerns - at least as far as we are called and expected to act.  Telling someone that they don't have the right to take care of their loved ones in the same way that heterosexuals do is denying the homosexual community a recognition of their dignity and worth as creations beloved of my God.

If anything, though, I've seen tonight that America is capable of change, of broadening our horizons and becoming a better society.  We saw tonight the results of previous generations challenging perceptions and beliefs.  I'll be able to tell my kids that I voted for the nation's first African American president.  A hundred years ago, that was as feared and hated as gay marriage is now, and so I'm hopeful that change can and will come, and hopefully much more quickly.

So I realized today that 17-year-old Tiffany would have thought that 30-year-old Tiffany is pretty awesome and someone to want to be like.

And that is a really cool feeling.

Just because

Almost everything you knew about me a year ago has changed.  Just so you're in the loop.  Here's a short list:

1.  Currently working as a temp attorney, taking work when and where I can get it, and in the meantime, doing some traveling and enjoying life.
2.  This summer I spent two weeks in New Orleans working with impoverished youth.  Amazing.  I have even looked at jobs down there.
3.  Then, one of my girls from England came for a visit.  We drove from Nashville to Orlando, to New York, to Niagara and back.  Also amazing.  Have also looked at jobs in the UK.
4.  Moved into a house with a yard and a dog and awesome new roommates.  Miss the old roommate, too, though, just for the record.
5.  Just signed up for NaNoWriMo.  I know some of y'all have done it in the past, so if you have advice, send it my way.  Or, you know, ideas of what to write about.  
6.  Kinda think I want to be a teacher now.  Have looked into what all that would take.  Basically just need to find a school that needs a history/civics teacher and start from there.
7.   Still driving the same car, going to the same church, and listening to Lightning 100.1.  So not everything has changed.

More soon.....

Dreams & Determinations

The other night I had a great dream. I started out at church. After service, my friend Lara asked me if I wanted to go to a movie with her and some of our other friends. I agreed, and we all piled into her car. Instead of the cinema, however, she drove us to the airport.
"Why are we at the airport? I thought we were going to a movie."
"We are. The movie is only playing in Yemen, though."
So we flew to Yemen. I was a little disappointed that I hadn't known ahead of time, as I would have brought my camera, but I had my cell and was able to snap a few shots on the crap cam. I don't remember whether or not we saw the movie, but I was excited to visit a new place. We saw some crazy, scary, cool statues and ruins, and a gorgeous beach with golden sand and water so clear we could see the fishes swimming several yards out.

I'm not sure where the Yemen thing came from. The only connection I have to it (which I mentioned to one of my friends in the dream) is that in the movie "Night at the Roxbury" (which, yes, I own on DVD) the Boutabi family is from Yemen. Random, I know.

I've been dreaming about beaches a lot lately. I think it's driven by my desire to get back out to LA and see my friends out there. Two of my best friends in Cali just had babies, and I need to go spoil them a good bit. But I also think that it's a deeper yearning. The last couple of weeks have been hard for me, spiritually and emotionally. I can't really point to any single cause, other than just the general buildup of stress over my unemployed situation. I've just been in a general funk for a few days now. And so I'm seeking to surround myself with friends who encourage and support me. It's hard, because I'm frequently scheduled to work both Friday and Saturday night on any given weekend, and that significantly cuts down on the time I have available to spend with people who work 9-5. I'm spending way too much time alone. Much more than is good for my spirit. And so I think that is driving the desire for a vacation out west, where I could spend several uninterrupted days basking in friendship and love.

Wow, didn't mean to be so down today, but I am trying to be honest about my situation and what I'm going through. Both because I know other people have been through it, and might read this and be able to offer me encouragement, and because other people will go through it and might be encouraged to know they are not alone in either situation or temperament.

As for my situation, not a lot has changed. On the surface, anyway. There's just not much out there, and nothing that fits both my qualifications and career goals. Unless something new opens up soon, I'm looking at either having to try to work on my own again (which I dread doing because it was so hard on me the last time) or make a drastic career change, which I don't want to do for obvious reasons. I'm still trying to be in prayer about it, but it's definitely hard to keep praying when there seems to be no real answer. I'm going through the motions most days. But at least (for now) I'm going. And that's something, right?


The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for me. Which was kind of a nice change of pace, although it interfered greatly with my ability to get the routine things done.

The first, and less interesting thing, is that I've picked up a lot of hours at work lately. I'm getting a lot of good feedback from my higher-ups, and have been called in to work on some special projects, which has been great for the old self-esteem. If this law thing doesn't work out....

But the other, really fun thing that happened, is that my brother's passport was stolen! Hmm, maybe I should explain. My brother, Ted, has traveled to China 4 times in the last few years. (In fact, he's there now as I'm typing this.) So a few weeks ago, he sent his passport to the Chinese embassy to get his visa in order to enter the country this month. Somewhere in the shipping process (yes, we know where; no, we don't know who did it), his passport, with the visa in it, was lost, presumed stolen.

This was discovered when, 2 days before his flight, he still hadn't received it.

So. Ted was able to change his flight by one week, in order to go to Washington, D.C., to renew everything in person. I was the only one whose work schedule would allow it, so I got to go up there with him.

It was great, first of all, for the two of us to spend some time together. Fortunately, we both have the same approach to road trips, which is: only talk when both/all parties want to talk. Otherwise, put your headphones on and read a book or sleep. This approach works quite well, especially as we had 2 decades of family trips during which to perfect it.

D.C. was overrun with schoolchildren, as happens in the spring. But it's a great city - pedestrian-friendly, lots to do, and endlessly photogenic. I went sightseeing while Ted stood in line in the passport office and at the Chinese embassy.

Here are the highlights:

1. Remember, a few weeks ago, when I said I wanted to get to a Real Art Museum? Well, the National Gallery has always been one of my favorites. And it's free. So I spent a few hours there last Tuesday. I spent all of my time in the 18th and 19th-century French and British wing. That's where they have the paintings by my (current) favorite artist, Pissarro. Ever since I was first introduced to his work, I have been pretty fixated on it. I just respond to it at a molecular level, and can pick his work out of a pile of others. Something about the light, and the detail work he does. I just get it,

Anyway, as I was wandering the wing, I kept coming across a tour group of retirees with a docent who really seemed to know what he was talking about. (If not, he was really good at faking it.) So I kept an eye on them, to see if they would go into the room with the Pissarro paintings. I don't know a whole lot about the artist, and was curious about what the guide would say. Sure enough, after a lengthy bit about Manet's impressionism debut, he led them to the tiny little room that I love. He didn't say much, but he did say that (1) Pissarro was a mentor to Cezanne, and a father-figure to Van Gogh, who are two of my other favorites. And (2) that he was the oldest member of the Impressionists, and so served as a teacher to the group, and as the mediator and peace-keeper. Perhaps I give myself too much credit, but I kind of think that maybe that's why I get his work. Sounds like he and I are a lot alike.

2. Ted and I were trying to decide where to eat dinner around Knoxville on the way up there. As we drove around the little exit, I said, "You know, I could really go for Arby's." Just then, an Arby's sign appeared on the horizon. I then tried saying "You know, I could really go for $1 million", but it didn't work.

3. My favorite part of the week: when Ted and I arrived late Monday afternoon, we decided to do a test run of everything he would need to do Tuesday, so he would have a sense of how long it would take. The Chinese embassy is north of Georgetown, and the subway doesn't run up there, so we took the bus. I was trying to remember where the LUSH (my favorite store) is in D.C., and I thought it might be in Georgetown, so I told Ted to keep his eyes open. We didn't see it on the way out, but on the way back, I watched again. (I'm very stubborn, especially about LUSH.) I was talking to Ted about something, when all of a sudden, I smelled it. No kidding. From inside the bus. Now, if you've ever been to a LUSH, you know it has a very distinctive scent - all those yummy bubble baths and bath bombs and soaps. But still. I shrieked and made Ted get off the bus with me at the next stop. It was everything I hoped for. I got some new shampoo that, so far, I'm very happy with.

Oh, and Ted got his new passport and visa, obvs, and left for Asia on Saturday, where he is having a fantastic time. And hopefully buying me something fun as a thank-you. I'm hoping for the entire Arrested Development series, or maybe some jewelry like he got last time. I kind of think I might get something from LUSH, though.

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