It’s Monday, and everything is good. I am propped up in bed, in the excellent air conditioning. It is 100 degrees outside today. The guinea chicks are doing okay, it seems, in their coop (aka the greenhouse). We have to turn the heat lamp off when it gets this hot. The dogs don’t seem to mind the heat either, but they are spoiled and usually in the house with us most of the time. Archer is laying at the foot of the bed with me now. We cleaned the house today. I vacuumed and folded clothes and wiped down the kitchen counters and the dining table. I have been dreaming of utilizing the greenhouse for something other than just guineas as the weather cools off, but if they stay in there, I’m afraid they will eat anything I try to plant. I’d like to use pallets. Like, those moving pallets, but I want to rip one side off of them, and use it like a big, shallow box in which to fill with dirt and plant lettuce and fall things. Maybe even attempt something exotic, like lemons, or something. Just imagine if I could grow grapefruit! I miss the feeling of fall, and the smell of pumpkins. Not that pumpkins reek odor when you go out picking them, but with fall comes pumpkin spice lattes and sweet pumpkin scent at Bath and Body Works. I don’t imagine I’ll actually get to partake in many pumpkin spice lattes this year, as I am dieting now and all, but maybe they can be my special treat on Mondays. Mondays are cheat days. I can always change it, and make cheat day a different day, but for now I like Monday for cheat day.

Gay Rights

On “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay”: The Rise of Homosexuality Acceptance

            At a time when the topic of homosexuality brings near mass turmoil in online discussions and focus on media qualms brings about even family arguments, America has a choice to make. Topics, such as Duck Dynasty, Chick-fil-A, Boy Scouts of America, Ellen Page, and NFL entanglements with acceptance of homosexuality, brought to light by the media have are being either heavily scrutinized or made honorary idols. Acceptance of the gay community is rising, but will it be enough? It is a sticky situation right now, but the times, they are a changin’. The rise of homosexuality acceptance, in some ways, closely resembles that of the civil rights movement and is commonly referred to as the American gay rights movement. Despite our culture’s influences against homosexuality, Christian disdain and various, often misled understandings of the Holy Bible, and even the public’s ideas concerning moral and ethical conceptions, love and acceptance of the gay community is at a turning point.

            Homosexuality is becoming more and more widely accepted, yet there are still many people fighting it. America’s social acceptance of the gay community may reflect the population inflation of homosexuals. According to the article, “Gay Population Statistics”, it is practically impossible to get an accurate population number of homosexuals in America, and it depends on the definition of gay. Gary J. Gates explains in an interview, studies based on the number of people identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender tend to show lower numbers than surveys asking more personal questions pertaining to sexual orientation. Ramon Johnson reports, “The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a sexual orientation law and public policy think tank, estimates that 9 million (about 3.8%) of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (2011)” (Johnson). Populations of homosexuality must be rising as the population in America is also rising, more people are coming out every day (even to themselves), and America is becoming more culturally aware and accepting of the gay community. The gay rights movement, however, is still relatively a new threshold for America, and it is still difficult for many to come out of the closet. As Dan Pearce’s blog article articulates, numerous young homosexual people still have to worry about being accepted by their own parents, let alone the rest of society.

            There are yet still multitudes who believe that homosexuality is some form of sin. Christians can be a different kind of people, as with any classification or group of people. A belief system can lead to wonderful, empowering acts of kindness and love, but there are many instances in which the opposite has been the case. Religion was not meant to be something wars were fought over, yet the reality is religion has provided so many people shields to hide under as they spout bigoted and nasty utterances toward undeserving souls. The negative remarks made by many, in many cases claiming to be Christian, toward homosexuals and homosexuality goes beyond unsound, unethical, and hypocritical. It is plain crazy. Many accusations have been made saying homosexuality is sinful, wrong, disgusting or gross. The book of Leviticus is probably the most renowned place to find teachings in the Bible about homosexuality. The Bible was written by many different descendants of apostles and disciples, and can be translated in many different ways. Jesus also taught by way of parables, or stories in which to teach a lesson. Some people prefer to believe that “laying with another man,” actually translates to implications pertaining to war or wartime strategies. Others take it literally. There are scriptures in the Bible that strongly advise against eating beef, and that those who do shall be put to death by hanging. Some chapters, whole books even, in the Bible are letters to specific nations, or kings of nations. It is really no wonder why people get in a tiff about the teachings of the Bible. So much of it is unclear and imprecise. It was written in Hebrew after all, yet some still believe their way of understanding is the only right way. The rest of humanity should burn in hell. This is not true of all Christians, but surprisingly, there are a lot of them.

            An excellent blogger, and gay rights activist, writes from his own perspective on his blog, “The Boeskool”, in a post called “Starting an Argument on Christmas for All the Right Reasons”. Pertaining to some of the comments and statuses about the Duck Dynasty riff raff, he proclaims “…triggered beneath all of that anger and controversy was an important conversation about Homosexuality and Political Correctness and Jesus and Judgment… [Sic].” As with Dan Pierce in his article, “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay,” the anonymous author of “The Boeskool” preaches against hatred and judgment and for love and acceptance. A lot of moral and ethical ideas come from individuals’ religious beliefs and backgrounds, but regardless of religious or political standpoints, this really boils down to being an argument of ethics. Is it really okay when people treat others as if they are somehow better than them? The sad truth is that this argument has caused so much insane fighting and word slinging on the internet and probably in real life. There are still some people, some unassuming, some of whom fit some kind of homophobic profile, who would cringe, maybe even have the guts to spit a hateful remark, at the sight of two people of the same gender being affectionate toward each other. The author of “The Boeskool” writes, “The lesson that many people took from all this yelling and uncomfortableness (other than a general sense of Christians be trippin’) is that it’s just not even worth it to say anything.” He follows later with, “We have a responsibility to not let the only voice that the world hears be the voice of the guy yelling the word “faggot.” (“Starting an Argument…”)

            Although some sad circumstances can be seen, such as the decrease in boy scouts since acknowledging and honoring an openly gay member, things are still shaping up. “The Boy Scouts of America have lost six percent of their members since changing their policy on gay participants…” claims a Time U.S. article (Dockterman). Since the widely accepted football player, Micheal Sam, came out to the public, little negative press has been seen; though, there is some. An article in South China Morning Post shows the comment, “…veteran New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma said in an interview with NFL Network that he did not want a gay teammate” (Covitz). It has been a landslide since Chick-fil-A. That was probably one of the worst cases of insanity; it brought the argument into light. People rioted, got mad, boycotted, and screamed at each other in caps on Facebook, but it is getting better. Despite the negative press, or people’s old ill-natured beliefs, acceptance is prevailing. Despite the “staying this way because that’s how it has been for years” hillbillies’ hatred of change, equality for homosexuals is on the rise. If now, the worst comment is, “I didn’t want a gay teammate,” and the worst statistic is losing a few members; that is pretty darn good. There is hope for America. Whole states are coming around, and sooner or later, America will be primarily a rainbow flag waving, care giving country breeding acceptance, equality, and love for one another.


Works Cited

Covitz, Randy. “Will There Be NFL Locker Room Acceptance of Openly Gay Player Michael Sam?” South China Morning Post. South China Morning Post, 15 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Dockterman, Eliana. “U.S.” US Boy Scouts See Ranks Shrink After Policy Shift on Gays Comments. Time U.S., 13 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Johnson, Ramon. “Gay Population Statistics.” Gay Life., n.d. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

"Starting An Argument On Christmas For All The Right Reasons | The Boeskool." The Boeskool. The Boeskool, 24 Dec. 2014. Web. 16 Feb. 2014.

Well, I’ve started working out. My brother’s girlfriend makes me go, and then she is my personal trainer, telling me what to do and doing it with me (I think it’s to be nice and to show me that it CAN be done). It’s been terrible. Not really, but my calves are blown. They are beyond “on fire”. They were on fire yesterday and this morning BEFORE we worked out again. lol.

I think my teacher hated my first paper. She practically tore it apart grammatically. Which from what I see, is mostly exactly correct. There are a few things I might argue, but I’m not about to. Then there are some things that I have no idea what they mean. There is no positive feedback at all. It’s a little depressing. It’s been a long time in which this is the case, maybe never. I didn’t think by any means there would be no mistakes, few even, but to have nothing positive.. well, my heart sank a bit. I guess I’ll find out by the grade (which hasn’t come out yet).

Introduction Essay

Brandi Fleshman and the Values Within: An Introduction

            As I take a somewhat squeamish sip of my Captain Morgan spiced rum in a small decorative ceramic Starbucks cup, I try to think of the things that define me. I have come to no clear conclusion, but I would first gather that one of the most defining things in my life is first and foremost my family. I look around the room, trying to gather ideas for what defines me, as my Great Dane, Sterling Archer, glances at me with lazy eyes and yawns. I reminisce on my family’s recent excursion into the mountains of Colorado. I found myself missing our two fuzzy companions on our relatively short trip. While our dogs were at their “grandparents’” (my parents’) house, we were in a ski shop in Breckenridge with two beautiful female Siberian huskies named Nala and O’Hanna. I think the saying rings true, that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I also believe, however, that, at least in my experience, the ones I love are the ones I am around, or want to be around, the most. Better than introducing myself via a life recap of sorts, or a tiring drone of my past accomplishments, I’ll debrief by telling a bit about myself and the things/people I value greatly and by telling a short story about lessons learned during and after our recent skiing trip in Breckenridge. My hope is that this essay be an enlightening tale as to who I, Brandi Fleshman, am as a human being and a well-informing introduction of myself.

The people that are around me in my more intimate and least decorated times are my closest of friends, my family. They are the few who not only know me the best, but also endure the bulk of my shortcomings, flaws, or errors. This is most likely true of many families, but I would like to strongly reiterate how much I value and appreciate the members of my family. I have truly been blessed with a strong, loving, compassionate, intertwined family that all seem to value, understand, and generally enjoy one another. There are truly few, I believe, who can say as such. My family knows and defines me better than perhaps most any other singular entity. It is a hard thing to explain, and the best way may be as to say, “I love them.” Most things that I prioritize revolve around my family and our conjoined futures. I work as a hairdresser in order to help provide for my family. I attend classes in hopes to better provide and sustain our future family. I try to do most things in mind of my family. For family is what is most important to me, and therefor can be said, the cornerstone of who I am as a person.

Among the members of my close family lies my boyfriend of over five years, Katlin, his daughter of six, Kacie, and our two dogs, Rooster and Archer. My boyfriend is a chef, and his daughter, of course, a diva princess. Actually, I should say Katlin is working as a cook with a license to be a chef, and his daughter trains as a diva princess with her noble steed, the Great Dane, Archer. Katlin enjoys video games, playing with his daughter, and teasing me the best he can. Kacie enjoys almost anything pink, her Furby Boom she got for Christmas, nearly anything Monster High (right now), family nights involving movies and popcorn, her Gigi and Papa (Katlin’s parents), and long baths. She also likes hugging Rooster, playing games on her iPhone, rollerblading, riding her bike (which is a pink motor-bike look-a-like bicycle), swimming, and spending time with her large family. Kacie is a wonderful, funny, smart young girl, and she is the best future step-daughter a girl like me could ever ask for. When Kacie is not around for Katlin and I to smother and spoil, we are forced to resort to pushing our love on Rooster and Archer. They are pretty funny, our “boys.” At times I feel like I am caring for a couple of two-year-olds. One of their favorite nuances is pulling Q-tips from the waist basket in the bathroom and scattering them throughout our small house. I like to dress Rooster. He gets baths somewhat regularly, and a biannual haircut. Katlin doesn’t like for me to pamper Archer by clothing him, but occasionally I get away with pulling one of my tee shirts over his head.

We recently took an extended weekend ski trip to Breckenridge, Colorado. We left Thursday night, detoured through Woodward, Oklahoma, (in order to pick up Kacie from her mother), endured (though I, not so gracefully) the car-sickening ride into higher altitude, stayed, skied, and shopped until we left Monday morning at the break of day for the return to Stillwater. I can picture the drive back to Oklahoma. It was long and lonely, and we were bored out of our minds listening to Ender’s Game and one of the Halo audiobooks. I remember thinking, while riding shotgun in a heated seat of Katlin’s parents’ Mercedes SUV, about times in my life in which I tried hard to capture the moment in my brain as to never forget that moment in time. I have tried several times in my life to do so. Some I can remember clearly. Others come to me in little fragments at times. Sometimes I am trying to remember those moments, and other times those memories penetrate and bleed into my thoughts unwarranted. I took a picture this time, on the car ride back home. We were driving through Kansas, I think, when I grew worrisome that I might forget something about my very first ski trip. I wanted to remember everything, and I was unsure of my ability to have soaked every moment in. What if I hadn’t taken enough time to capture each wonderful moment in my brain? What if I forgot something like the feeling of the cool dry, snow-filled air hitting the bottom half of my face as I sailed down the mountain? I grew unsure of myself and my ability to recall what I thought to be important. What I came to realize, though, is that I never left behind anything that’s really important. I brought them back with me, and I got two more back from my parents when we got back home.

Our little family has already taken several trips in our history of being a family, and we have experienced countless timeless and miraculous moments in our youths. I look forward to many more. Meanwhile, I try hard to remember that while documenting memories may serve to help recall details, it is not what is most important, and I think what a person values most is a good indicator of the kind of person they are. In other words, there are struggles and trials that we, as individuals, go through on a daily basis. I think how we chose to overcome them, and what we place order on, helps define us personally. As I take another look around my living quarters, the truth of it all sinks in. There are trinkets scattered throughout this house acquired from one place or another. To place much value on them would be silly. Katlin is sitting in his chair not far from my feet, and Kacie is asleep in her bedroom. Archer and Rooster are sleeping here, on the couch, with me, and there is nothing that could make me happier.