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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Opportunity

Today, I honor my partner by posting his New Year's letter to his friends and family. As you read, you'll sense his struggle and the advances he hopes that we'll all make in 2007. He knows the value of time and how fleeting it can be. To wish you all peace and encouragement as we move forward....yet one more notch on the clock of life. Big New Year's Hugs to you all....Lewis. And now......(If it's not the top posting when you get to this site, scroll through until you find "Opportunity")..http://its-raining-men.blogspot.com/

Friday, December 29, 2006

Stash of Dollar Bills


I'm out of the hotel early this morning, 6:00, and off to Starbucks for the obligatory tall nonfat vanilla latte before a busy day of flying. The streets of Oakland are pretty quiet. It's still dark and cool, maybe 40. There are a few people getting an early start setting up in the street for the Friday Market that always looks so tempting whenever I happen to be there on a Friday. Starbucks is a block down the street from the hotel.....I cross over Broadway and turn left. There's a bundle of blankets, or is it a couple of heavy winter coats, with a woman all wrapped up inside...her very own (warm?) cocoon. It's her house, actually. Her hood is pulled up over her head, just her face is showing, sort of, when it's not looking down at the cold gray sidewalk. She is sitting on the ground and asks if I have any change when I pass by. I have never given a dime to anybody on the streets that I remember. Not really any real good reason for not doing it. Just have chosen not to, I guess. Sometimes I think it's a scam, or kids just trying to get a few extra bucks for pot or beer, but I know it's not always that way. Today is no different. I walk right on by her ignoring her plea. And then it hits me, just about the time I'm opening the door, smelling the pastries and hot coffee: Right now, I'm the very thing that I don't like in our world. Nicely dressed, fresh out of the hot soapy shower, clean clothes, and marching my pretty little arrogant ass into the local corporate conglomerate coffee shop to drop $3 on a drink. Not a bad thing...but sometimes I hate that part of our country....and now it's me.....I'm a part of it....I'm the one doing it.......being an active participant in separating myself from "those other people." So, I order and wait. I turn and look outside through the well decorated windows and see the back of her head outside. She has taken over my mind....all without doing a thing. Wonder how long she's been there? Is she there all of the time? Maybe that's "her spot." The coffee comes up for "Lewis" and I'm off....back outside with a dollar bill in my hand, folded up neatly, to give to her when I pass by her again. I'm still trying to avoid eye contact as I walk directly toward her.....why? I don't know. So, I slip her the dollar and keep on moving. She says nothing. And it happens again...the cynicism rears its ugly head...and I say "you're welcome" to her because she didn't thank me...and keep on walking toward the hotel. Just trying to remind her that she should say "thank you" when given something. On my right, I'm passing an old beat-up pickup that has pulled over to the curb and is putting up a homemade sign on butcher paper along the side of the pickup: "Live Chickens." The back of the truck is filled with four or five huge steel chicken cages filled with what are supposed to be live chickens. They don't look alive to me. Ick. I'm disgusted and turn my head away. Back to thinking about the girl. And quickly reminded of my sister who spent a good portion of her life on the streets, begging, sleeping rolled up in cardboard for the night under a Rhododendron bush. Thank god she's not there any longer. I wonder if people helped her? I wonder if assholes like me walked on by her or thought less-than-positive thoughts about her. Or if they said "you're welcome" to her if she forgot to say "thanks." God, I hope not. I've thought about this girl for the rest of my day. It occurred to me that she was probably afraid to say anything to me after I totally ignored her on my initial way into get my rich white boy gay coffee. There always seems to be a struggle between my head and my heart. An internal Iraq war going on...based on bad intelligence sometimes, I think. I always try to remind myself that I never know what journey the other person is on. Who they are, where they've come from, or where they are going. Hell, maybe they don't even know. I do know that 2007 is going to be a different year for me. There may even be a stash of dollar bills in my pocket.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Did You Have Yours Today?


**** Disclaimer: This post will not be pretty, pleasant, nor enjoyable. If you're easily put off, grossed out, or offended, read no further....you have been duly warned ****

I am not sure how the whole thing started except that it did. Quickly. And it disintegrated even more quickly. Christmas day had been pretty pleasant. Hubby and me had prepared delicious pork tenderloin, garlic/Parmesan mashed potatoes, peas with pearl onions, and carrots glazed with lime juice, brown sugar, and chili oil. Fantastic. We loaded up the Sorento with the goods and both of hubby's brothers and headed to their mommy and daddy's house. It's much easier to take it there than to drag them out and about with all of their ills and such. Somewhere toward the end of the meal, the shit hit the fan. Now, for years this has been an unusual family in that they have made some sort of an issue out of bowel movements. (Remember, you were warned earlier.) BMs are discussed, at length (no pun intended). Did you have one? Does the dog need to have one? Can you pick up some prune juice for daddy? It's a bit off putting if you're not prepared for it. I typically stare into oblivion and wait/pray/hope for the moment to pass (no pun). And last night was no different. One of S's older brothers started by waving his hands in the air and making the statement, "Okay, I just have to get this all out in the open." Apparently, as a child he was traumatized by not being able to take BMs anyplace except at home. Some kids are just that way. (I, too, remember not wanting to show my little pee-pee off in the boy's bathroom at Taft Elementary School.....but I got over that quickly....but that's a whole other story.) He was recalling the moment when, as a child, he had his Ah-Ha moment just like Oprah promises. It was at Manuel's Restaurant in Old Town San Diego. Something about going to the men's room and, finally, being able to go poo-poo by himself without being at home. Wow, what a breakthrough. Apparently, Nana (grandma) used to make little T tell her what kind of BM he had in the bathroom: Was it a "plop, wipe, flush" or was it a "few little marbles." "Did you go chair-chair?" Then we digressed even further back to when our kindergarten teachers would want to know if you'd been going #1 or #2 when you left the classroom. They like to keep track of these things for some ungodly reason. I supposed to tell mom and dad if you've gone poo-poo or pee-pee during the day. As if there was some sort of a list being kept. My god, these people were messed up. And, it's not over yet. Now we have to talk about the dog who doesn't get walked outside like he should. Something about a lousy poor excuse of "it's raining" or "too cold" or something unreasonable. So, it's always an issue of whether the dog has gone, not gone, needs to go, or should go. Oh, and of course, we have to start the joking about "cut the crap" and "no shit" and other puns. It was lovely. It really was. It was a beautiful way to end a perfect holiday meal with family. Discussing shit. Dumps. Length. And the proper reporting procedure. I'm hoping for a breakthrough this next year. In fact, I've demanded it. I've given everybody until the 31st to graduate to the next higher level of discussion and communication. Shit Reporting 102 instead of 101. Whoo-wee. I can hardly wait to see what we'll come up with for 2007. Hope your holiday was a happy as ours.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

However You Say It, I Hope For It


I don't care how you say it, what language or sentiment is behind it, I wish for it. Hope for it. I hope you'll join me in spreading it. My thanks to you and amazingly great wishes to you for a great holiday. Thanks for being my blogger buddies! Peace.

Pax (Spanish) Shantih (Hindi) Shalom (Hebrew) Mir (Russian)
Paix (French) Vrede (Dutch) Frieden (German)
Heiwa (Japanese) Pace (Italian) Irini (Greek) Paz (Portuguese)
Su Thai Binh (Vietnamese) Hetep (Egyptian) Hau (Tahitian)
Fred (Swedish and Norwegian) Sidi (Tibetan) Salaam (Arabic)


Let justice join with peace
Redeeming the whole wide earth
All humankind stands up
Affirming their rightful worth
So raise each voice, let the world rejoice
When each soul is whole and free
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me
(New words by Ed Segel)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Whose Around Your Table?


One of my fondest memories of Christmas time was having all of our family around the table together. We were, and still are, a loving and close family. Always together for holidays, birthdays, and even every Friday morning at 9:00 for the family Coffee Klatch at Pastry Perfection. I don't know how this ever started but there were several years when I was very young that my parents got it in their minds to make a phone call out to the Marsing Job Corps and invite a couple of guys to our family's table for dinner. Let me remind you that we're talking about 1970 Idaho...white, Republican, pretty closed-minded (so I thought), way off to the right. The more I think back about this deal, the more it amazes me. So, we'd drive the hour each way to the facility and pick up whoever they had selected to come with us. At least one year, it ended up being two African-American guys. One named Alfonso and I can't remember the other guy's name. My mom still has the Super-8 movie film of the three of us kids playing in the living room after dinner with these guys......nice, friendly, smiling and (I hope) happy. The tree is decorated in the corner. My sister is twirling around with her long hair flapping in the breeze. My brother and I running back and forth in our matching Christmas outfits (why always matching, I'll never know). And Alfonso and his buddy with huge grins on their faces. Like they'd been liberated or given a little break in life. I very well remember, then, sitting down at the dinner table filled with good food, all of us together, and holding hands for the first time ever with someone whose skin color was not the same as mine. We gave thanks for the food, ate for what seemed like forever, and later in the day took the guys back to Marsing to the Job Corps facility. By that time of the day, it was dark. As far as we could see, snowy farm landscapes, with Christmas lights sparkling in the blackness, as we said goodbye to these guys who still impact my mind and heart today. As deep in my heart as I can feel, I am thankful to my parents whose hearts are bigger than life....for the memories, for the teaching, for the inclusion....no matter what. Whose around your table this year?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Holiday Cheer At Its Finest

I'm telling you, there's just nothing like getting together with the perfect family at the holidays. Fragrant pine tree is up, decorations just so, lights wound properly around each branch, hot cocoa, presents by the gazillion piled up deep under the tree, normally crazy kids all well behaved with their stockings hung on the mantle, and parents on their best behavior. Yummy food being baked and devoured at rates only kin to the $$$ we're spending on the silliness in Iraq and other places. And did I mention the pretty little angel perched ever so carefully on the top of the tree with the pine branch poking up her skirt? Listen carefully as I describe this totally whacked out father's true Christmas spirit being displayed so preciously with his two six-year-olds:

Son: But, daddy, I want more presents! The kid is crying and slobbering all over the place. Spoiled rotten little brat.

Father: Now if you don't drop it right now, you're going to lose two more presents! Ouch, not two MORE.

Son: I want more candy, daddy! (Sounds just like me at home....but I only take candy from them if they're cute.)

Father: Don't be such a little boy! (Earth to papa....the dude is, maybe, six.......)

Son is still crying, still stomping, pouting, and yelling........God, it's sickening (couldn't daddy have kept his pee-pee in his pants....this kind of thing wouldn't happen if he had).

Father: Okay, that's it, now you're losing THREE presents! Oh god, not THREE presents....I can't believe he was ever going to get THREE presents.....I think the kid needs a kick in the ass.

Okay, the kid's going to have nothing under the tree if this keeps up. Boo hoo. The tears are welling up in my eyes.

The holiday cheer just continues to mounts.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Morning Mood Enhancer

7:55 this morning, bleary eyed, I stumbled slowly, carefully, down the stairs from our bedroom. In sweats. Made the bed already. It's kind of cold out for Portland....low 30s overnight. A little ice and snow yesterday with horrible winds. S always makes sure my coffee is ready for me. He's so good that way. I've stayed in bed so long today that he's already in the shower. I hear the water running. Good, I'll get my coffee and sneak in the bathroom and maybe even slip into the shower too. Hum. Knock the heat up to 68, fill my coffee cup, and take a look outside to see if it looks slick. The deck is shiny with ice. Damn. The shower water has turned off. He's in his robe, shaving cream on his pretty face. He always shaves after the shower at the sink. I'm an "in the shower" kind of guy as far as shaving goes. He tells me he's in a bad mood which is very unusual for him. Didn't sleep well. I hate to hear that first thing in the morning. We've got a totally busy weekend ahead of us.....dinner with friends tonight before the Portland Gay Men's Chorus holiday concert....two open houses tomorrow before dinner with more friends at The Rheinlander (guess which entre I'm having?). So, no time for a bad mood. I catch him in the office now, computer in his lap, in one of our favorite chairs...beautiful buttery leather. He's in his terry cloth bathrobe from a few Christmases back. Warm and toasty on this cold morning except that it's kind of hanging open just a little. Probably a draft in there. He is such a beautiful man....fuzzy chest, stomach and legs. Just perfect. So, maybe I'll try and help improve that bad mood a little, I'm thinking, even though I haven't finished my first cup of java yet. Of course he wouldn't mind just a little extra mood enhancer, would he? But it wasn't long before he's looking around, checking through the windows to see if any neighbors are watching (yeah, right, the super-cool lesbians next door are probably saddled up in their breakfast nook having their breakfast smoothies, reading the paper, and tuning in to me on the office floor with him the chair). I am so sure! But, "snap," the robe is yanked closed....."I'm not that kind of boy," he chirps. But at least he's got a smile on his face now. Maybe his mood has changed for the better, even just a little, I hope. Sure enough, it's been a good day. Happier than happy. Big smile on his face. I'll bet the Chorus will sound better than ever tonight.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Flirting in the Outback

My friend G and I were at The Outback having dinner tonight. A younger girl and guy come in, sit down at the next booth, and start talking loud enough for us to hear them. I'm facing G, and the two suspects are in the booth behind G.

Lewis to My Friend G: So, what are you going to have?
G: I think I'll have a small Outback special, jacket potato, and salad with tangy tomato dressing.
Lewis: I'm going to have a salad, potato, and side of broccoli.
G: That's not enough food. That's why you're so slim.
Lewis: It's enough. Plus, I don't really eat meat.

Cute Boy to Girl: I dropped off David's daughter earlier. I wonder who David is? Lover? Daddy? They continue this bantering for a few minutes.

G: God, his voice is nelly. Talking about the young guy behind him that he hasn't seen yet.
Lewis: I can't tell if he's gay or not. I'm trying to lean around G's head to take a closer look.
G: I'll bet he plucks his eyebrows. Now, how in the hell would he know that?

The young cutie gets up, leaves for a minute, and comes back. His swagger on the way back to his seat gives it all away. Not being stereotypical, am I? He is good looking (maybe it's just the tight green t-shirt talking) and now he's flashing me a big smile.

Lewis: Oh yea, the eyebrows are plucked. Pruned and landscaped are more like it. Looks like maybe a lawnmower has been his best friend.
G: Plucks his eyebrows? I don't like that. So, what's he doing now? Suddenly, in true Emeril fashion, things have been kicked up a notch.
Lewis: Well, he's leaning around the girl and trying to look at me now. I think the continued smiles are giving it away.
G: Oh my gosh!

He makes a phone call and starts talking to whoever is on the other end (maybe it's David or his daughter) about me. And now the girl he's with is turned around trying to look around G's head at me. They continue to giggle and are kind of giddy.

Lewis to G: At least he's polite. Every time that the (equally handsome) waiter approaches their table, he stops his phone call and says "thank you."
G: Good homosexual, good homosexual, G teases. He acts like he's petting a little "air" dog.

Lewis: Okay, it's time to go.....things are getting out of hand. I haven't been flirted with in a long time.

The cutie pie leans out toward the aisle when we're leaving and flashes me a big grin showing off the braces that his daddy probably paid cash for.

"Bye," he says.

"Bye," I am polite as any gentlemen would be.

Besides, I've got to get home and tell my hubby that a youngster has been hitting on me. I wonder if he even has his driver's license yet? Maybe he's getting it for Christmas.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Dear Agony Uncle Joe Blogs Advice Column

Don't miss the bantering of Lewis as he gets much needed help from "Dear Agony Uncle Joe Blogs." You'll find this ongoing problem and its riveting conclusion at Mr. Joe Blog's Blog. You'll want to tune in to see what Dear Agony advises distraught Lewis to do.

The Inner Circle


It's funny how we all have our invisible "circles" around us. Some people have just one huge circle, some one very small circle, and others exist with multitude numbers of different-sized circles around them. Each ring admitting a certain group of people and situations into it based on level of friendship, past history, experience, trials and errors. Protecting us from harm or pain or even opening us up to exposure and where all of our terrible habits and actions are. Some of us are so trusting. Others will never be trusting. I think I'm kind of somewhere in the middle. From my side of things, I feel that I make friends pretty easily. I'm comfortable talking with most anyone even if I don't know them. But I know that I give off this somewhat unrealistic aura of being hard to get to know. A little bit of an asshole or even arrogant (okay, that hurt). I guess it's because I'm fairly self-confident, sometimes even to a fault. It's funny how life's experiences bring us to a variety of places at varying times in our lives. Interesting, too, how we see ourselves versus how others see us from the outside. I've got an incredibly dry sense of humor, can be overly serious, but also have this side of me that loves to be spontaneous and have fun. But, let's go back to the circles. We went to a Christmas gathering at our good friend A's house on Saturday evening. We've known him for seven years or so, had many meals with him, concerts together, and even a trip to Mexico. We're very good friends. He called us early on Saturday and asked if we would mind coming several hours early to help him get some things ready. Of course we would help. Now this is a guy who is ultra organized, always prepared, always thinking ahead, and is never short on making sure everyone has cards and gifts for their special days. So, for him to ask us for help, was actually a real honor. We moved furniture, made coffee, dug chairs out of his basement and dusted them off, put out silverware, set the beautiful table, and a variety of other tasks. Somewhere in the middle of this few hours, it occurred to me that my partner and I were on one of his "inner circles." No huge fanfare or bands playing. Just that he felt so comfortable with us to actually ask us, and allow us, to help him with the not-so-fun parts of the party. He knows us and we know him. It's a good feeling to know that it doesn't always have to be about orchestrated formal evenings together where everything is planned and no wrong can be done. It's all about seeing each other, warts and all, worn-out bedroom slippers and not-so-flattering boxer shorts, and know that it's okay. So, who's in your circles...your closest circle? Do you let people into it easily? Or does it take a very long time of proving themselves before you admit them in? Trust is a tough one. We're all where we are today because of a wide variety of messes and successes. And, as long as I'm asking, who has allowed you the privilege of being inside their circle of trust? It's a cool place to be. It's warm, cozy, and welcoming. One that comes with both pressure and privilege. And who knows....one day maybe he'll even allow me on the very inner circle that let's me clean the toilets and clean out the refrigerator. Wait....maybe that's the far outer circle.....and, furthermore, maybe I don't want to be in that circle. I'm happy right where I'm at.

Friday, December 08, 2006

9 on the 9th.....A Milestone


It's a once in a lifetime moment....this year, we celebrate 9 years together on the 9th of the month. It all happened on December 9, 1997, in the dog food aisle at Safeway. If you're double-checking, that's equal to 108 months, 3,285 days, 78,840 hours, and 4,730,400 minutes (give or take a little because of leap years, time travel, and Back to the Future kind of events). It's the longest amount of time that I've been in any relationship. And I'm so happy to be here. It feels so good to invest in someone that is so worth investing in. He appreciates me so much, and I him. We (normally!) always seem to be watching out for each other, considering what the other one may think or feel or want. This year has been the toughest of all of our years together. And, to be honest, it has nearly come to separation. Now, keep in mind that we rarely fight or argue. But this year has been different. We've been pressured by severe family issues/drama/games. His job has been testing our ability to be flexible. And we've just gotten down and dirty with each other several times (not in a good way). It's never felt so much like a pressure cooker as this year. So, to reach this day, this anniversary, is amazing. It feels so good and comfortable. We love spending time together...always laughing, carrying on like crazy people, and always seem to find ourselves in funny situations that make us laugh. He is an amazing man. First for who he is, secondly for sticking by me with all of my rantings and ravings. I love him. He loves me. And today, we celebrate. 9 on the 9th. And who knows....maybe someday we'll actually be able to get married.

Christmas Cookie Disaster




Sunset Magazine December issue made the Frosted Ginger Cookies look so yummy....and the Cornmeal-Fennel cookies too. After three trips to the grocery store over the last few days, I thought we were all set to make them on this, the day we set aside to "get in the spirit" by making a few cookies. (Let's just say that we did, indeed, get into the spirit.....which spirit, I'm not sure....but, oh yea, we're in the spirit alright.) Should we double the recipe? We went back and forth on that a few times.....I was running back and forth to him with the ingredients, he was measuring and mixing. So, the first batch goes in the hot oven. You can see the results in the first and second picture that he's holding up for god and country to see. It's crap. (Damn that Paula Deen...she always makes it look so easy.) We left out a cup of flour. (I love the art of cooking.....I never did get very good grades in science.) They are flatter than pancakes and all ran together. Second round, we'll be OK, we decided. We'll just space them further apart so they don't run together. Should we re-grease the pan--no, it's got enough on it. You should have seen me down on my knees on the kitchen floor, spatula in hand, trying to get the second batch dislodged from the cookie sheet. Straight into the waiting trash can. Cornmeal-fennel cookies are in the refrigerator now waiting to be baked after the dough chills. We move onto the last recipe from the Food Network. We thought we may actually have one of these recipes work out. But, alas, not so much. I put the Baker's semisweet chocolate in a dish and into the microwave to melt. I think when we saw the black smoke coming out of the middle of the chocolate we knew there was trouble. "Just scoop out the burned part," he says to me. Um hum. Sure, I'll just do that. It all went straight into the disposer and down the drain. So, we have this nifty little bottle of semisweet dark chocolate syrup used for ice cream. It's been in the refrigerator for a while....and has now been drizzled across the top of the Orange Nut Bars (picture three). They may actually be edible. This is why I don't bake. Way too much science involved. I mean, I'm a good cook and can whip up an amazing meal for dinner. But screw the baking thing. I'll leave it to Homer and Adam. Let's go to their places for dessert.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

"Love Can't Replace a Mother and a Father" And Other Drivel


Okay now, kids, you'd better hold me back. I know there are those who thought that my earlier post More Hypocrisy of the Well Known Saints was a little harsh and that I expressed a little bit of anger over the Ted Haggard deal (you should see the Christian-tongue-lashing email I received from a past acquaintance....I'll post it sometime). But I'm going crazy, again. Uncle Lewis (Daddy Lewis to some of you) is quickly coming unglued. What the @#$%^&* is the (unconditional, loving Christian woman) Carrie Gordon Earll (who works for the infamous Focus on the Family and is good friends with the Ted Haggard of "I want to be a good Christian pastor, bash gays, and buy drugs and sleep with gay escorts on the side" fame) talking about? You can find the whole article here. After taking a Maalox and grabbing a bucket for puking in, follow me through some of her quotes:

She expressed empathy for the Cheney family. Pardon me? "Empathy" for a family who is expecting a child, a grandchild? Maybe she's confused. Sweetie, they're not getting a fatal illness, rat infestation, or jar of peanut butter in their home....they're getting a beautiful, brand new baby. Maybe try "happiness" or "joy" or one of those more well-received and appropriate adjectives. Empathy is what we express to those who call you a friend. (Ouch, I know.)

She also depicted the newly announced pregnancy as unwise. I guess when I think of "unwise," I think of (oh, should we do the short or long list here??) allowing children to be born into heterosexual homes that don't take care of them, don't feed them, abuse them, beat them, do drugs with them in the home, drink in front of them. We could go on to wars that our good Christian nation started on purpose, harboring pedophiles in the name of the church, and not taking a stronger stance on the ills growing inside the church in our world today. Those things are, quite clearly, unwise.

And finally, the title track of today's post: Love can't replace a mother and father. Shame that she has now bashed thousands (millions?) of wonderful children who grew up in same-sex parent homes. Maybe we could arrange lunch with Ms. Earll to quickly remind her of the mothers and fathers, dare I say even inside of her own organization, that have not wanted their children, have hated their children, and have slapped and molested their children. Oh yeah, love surely can't replace a heterosexual mother and father who don't want the children they have.

And this is where you, my readers, come in. I would like to hear your stories about growing up in homes that weren't "normal, standard" homes. Maybe a single parent, maybe same-sex parents, maybe no parents at all. Or how about grandparents or neighbors raising you? There are plenty of children being raised today by people who aren't their father or mother. Let's hear it! Ms. Earll needs to hear it, apparently. I'm sorry, what was the name of the organization that she represents again......I thought it was Focus on the Family....but it doesn't sound like it's fulfilling it's purpose. Yes, I'm angry, outraged and fired up. No apologies here, kids. I'm mad.

After you post your story here, I encourage you to take a look at Ms. Earll's press site and then write or call her office. She needs to hear your story. Oh, say, while you're on her site, pay close attention to the slug line Nurturing and Defending Families Worldwide. Huh? Say what?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"On the Blogspot" Interview With Mr. Joe Blogs


Name : Joe Blogs
Age : 25
Location : England
Vocation : Blogging
Life Philosophy : If in doubt, ‘Google’ it.

JB : sum up what your blog is about for us: It is random comedy ramblings. If it isn’t funny or intriguing it doesn’t get on my blog.

Why did you decide to do a blog? As a way of making money. I’m good at creative writing. Also the ego had to land somewhere.

What’s the funniest article on your blog? Well it’s deeply hidden. Like an old relic. Indiana Jones would struggleto find it. Though Harrison Ford is about 60 now and presumably struggles to find his teeth, what with trying to feed up Ally Mcbeal as well.

What keeps you motivated to keep adding posts? I like to post. I used to be a paper boy. The long bicycle trips were good. The weather not so great, on those chilly mornings. Also hands getting chafed on the handle bars. Selfish female motorists who think theycan drive in the cycle lane because it’s their time of the month. And motorists in Las Vegas, who cut you up, those amber gamblers! Oh and also back on the main point, it’s nice when people appreciate your writing!

Do you envy any other blogs? Just those with hits like the BeeGees have had.

If you could recommend one website, what would it be and explain why (cant’tbe your own website!): The best website ever, http://www.thehungersite.com/, enables you to give food to poor people, at no cost to you.

What are the common things people say about your blog? “Funny”, “Oh crap, it’s a virus”, “I only wanted a pair of jeans”

What’s the worst thing about doing your blog? Doing a post and not getting any feedback. Reading old articles and cringing.

What would you like to improve on your blog? The beginning, middle and end. Though the psychic hamster stays!

Why should someone visit your blog? Even prisoners get visitor time. And they only have a glass wall between visitors. And I don’t even ask that you bring a key, file, or smokes. My guests come from cyberspace, and often drop in anonymously, and leave fleetingly. Though I gather some have served time for hit and runs,visiting my site without leaving a comment!

If you weren’t doing your blog, how would you spend your time? Plotting world domination. And making papier mache dolls of David Letterman. (You are gonna edit this lewis? Right Lewis? Lewis, uthere…..Lewis, Oh Crap!)

Site address: http://mrjoeblogs.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Not Sure If I'm a Psychopath....But Glad to be a Hunk


I could never have been more surprised in my life than when my good blogger friend, Derek, at past, present, and future named me "Hunk of the Week." I swear to you, that's never happened before. I mean, who would have ever thought that a 44-year-old crazy and skinny gay guy with graying hair could be considered a hunk.....I don't think my name has ever been mentioned in the same phrase as "hunk" before (probably never will again, either!). All of that to say a huge thank you to Derek. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness.

I'm teaming up with Mr. Joe Blog's Blog this week by doing a mini-interview column. He posed several questions for me and you'll find my answers on his blog today. He'll be answering the same questions on my blog in the next day or two. He's got a very funny site that I think you'll enjoy. He has been so creative with his ideas and I'm thankful that he's offered me such a cool opportunity to participate. Now, I'm just trying to figure out if I'm a psychopath or not (see his site and check out his posting to see what I'm talking about.)

Well, my partner has been so good to me lately. He always has been. In all of his loving goodness, he has passed along his strep throat to me which I immensely appreciate. I don't know exactly how it happened--we haven't exactly been swabbing out each other's throats lately. So, my loving Dr. P tells me five days of antibiotics and cough medicine with codeine in it for the night time hours (to hell with night time, I'm going to mix it with diet Cream Soda and ice for my afternoon soiree with Ellen DeGeneres). So, now I'm the one with the Vick's Vap-o-Rub under my nose at night now......yea, who's laughing now (see my earlier post on "Snow, Fake Trees, Snoring and (No) Sex)". By the way, the snoring has all but ended....the Breathe Rite Strips really do work! Yeah! No more sleeping in the guest room.
(P.S....The pic is our plastic/fake/pseudo/made in China/pre-lit tree that we put up)

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Out and (Not Quite Ready to Be) Proud at the Cheesecake Factory



A couple of months ago, I remember it being a warm October Sunday afternoon, hubby and me decided to take a drive somewhere. Where? We didn't know. Just wanted to get out and enjoy the blue sky and the afternoon. Now here in Portland, like most metro areas, you've got your core city (where we live) and then the suburbs (where we seldom go). The city we live in voted 75% for John Kerry. We don't need to go anyplace else for any particular reason. The counties around us, however, not quite so blue. And on this day, we started driving...out away from the downtown core....over the West Hills...out to the suburbs and then a little south to Washington Square Mall in Washington County....mostly Republican, mostly white, mostly well off. Conservative, as the mall made us aware. It was filled with well-dressed folks with plenty of disposable income. Lots of trendy high schoolers with daddy-padded pockets. We hadn't been out there in years, many years. We pull in, the place is packed, and we notice a Cheesecake Factory restaurant. Hey, let's have lunch! So, you know the story, the place is wall-to-wall people, bleach-blond hair and big boobs on mommy, daddy with an "I'm a successful white businessman" look on his face and plenty of screaming children (why would you come out here??). We put our names on the list and are handed one of those buzzer vibrator deals (no, not THAT kind, silly). We're eyeballing the yummy cheesecakes lined up in the display case while tucked neatly among, what seemed like, the other half of the state of Oregon. God, I know now why I don't like to end up in these kinds of situations. Somewhere behind us, I hear a voice:

"Hey, have you guys been here before?" We turn and see a couple of good looking younger guys sitting down behind us waiting for their table too.

"Well, we haven't been to this particular one before" (and probably won't go back again either) "but we have been to a Cheesecake Factory in another city."

"Oh," the spokesman of he two says. "So, is the food good?" he questions.

"Yea, the food is pretty good."

"So, how are the sandwiches," he asks. The sandwiches? What is he talking about. He seems a little nervous and kind of looking around a little.

"Sandwiches are good," I tell him.

He nods his head, his dark hair falling across his ears and down on his forehead a little...kind of shaggy like seems to be the style now. He's sitting next to his friend, a guy about his same age, only blond. Nice looking, both of them. T-shirts and jeans, a couple of shopping bags from The Gap or Abercrombie & Fitch or something.

Still nervous and a little hesitant, he sort of pokes his thumb toward his friend and then back at himself as he says "We're together."

"Oh," I say. "How old are you guys?" I ask.

"15" is the answer. Great, I've got my grandchildren in front of me. Cuter than hell, but I know they were looking past my salt-and-pepper hair and for my AARP card. You know, seeing if they could get daddy in the grave soon and steal his cash.

"15," I exclaim......"Wow. How long have you guys been together," I ask.

"A year. Are you guys together?" he wants to know.

I nod my head as he asks me "if it's fun being together?"

"Yea, sure, it's fun most of the time....but not all of life is fun," I tell him, "but mostly it's a good deal."

I ask him if anybody at his school knows he's gay. Nope is the answer. How about your family, my partner asks him....still, the answer is no. Nobody knows. His dark, handsome eyes are about as big as quarter dollars as we have this little conversation. I doubt it's ever happened before.

"I got kicked off the football team," he says as he tugs at his gray Tualatin High School t-shirt. "They were making fun of me and calling me names and stuff, so I quit."

"I go to Tigard High School," blondie chimes in. (They can both keep talking forever as far as I'm concerned.) Now, Tigard and Tualatin are two suburbs next to each other down near the mall. Still, both are white, well off, and not that well known for their openness to alternative thoughts or lifestyles. Their buzzer goes off about this time and the waitress is ready to take them to their table. They stand up and start to head off but not before they both extend their long arms and shake our hands, both my partner's and my hands. My gosh, cute and polite.....I didn't know we had any of that left. They head out of view and we head to our table soon after. We both sat there, staring at each other, and wondering what in the hell just happened. Strangest and weirdest experience ever. I mean, two 15-year-olds who are not out, introduce themselves to us and start asking questions and then out themselves to us, in a public setting. Not an everyday occurrence for me, anyway. We just kept talking about the whole thing, going back over the conversation. I felt so sorry for them. Not being able to be out and be who they truly are inside. And, being made fun of? Don't even get me started. I'm afraid that I'd take a swing at the guys that made fun of them (I talk pretty big for a little guy). So, I ask my hubby if I should give them our phone number or email address or something in case they ever needed to talk or needed help. "No," he says, "they're under age." Well, what could be so wrong with just letting them know so that they could call if they needed something. So, against his better judgment, I borrow a pen from the wait person and scribble down my phone number and email address on the back of the Cheesecake Factory napkin. Before I head out to find their table, I do a double-check of the area...making sure that their mommy or daddy are no place nearby. Remember, they don't have driver's licenses yet so who knows how they got to the mall....could be a parent nearby (maybe daddy is handsome....hum). I put the napkin on their table and tell them if they ever need anything, feel free to call. Again, they thank me and put their hands out to shake mine. I can't believe this! They are so handsome, so polite, and so fearful.

We never heard a word. Didn't really expect to. My partner warned me that it wouldn't be pretty if their mom found my phone number laying on the floor among his dirty clothes and next to his bed. Oh well, I told him, I'd just have to deal with that if it happened. I couldn't worry about that right now, I only had the one chance to make sure they had the opportunity for help if they wanted it. I had to do what I thought was right. So, we finished our pizza, salad, and Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes (excellent and off of the appetizer menu if you go). We talked about this crazy story for weeks and, really, still are. My neighbor lady was in tears over the whole deal. She is a middle school teacher and says she sees this kind of thing all of the time. I've also recently had another friend asking me about coming out. I guess I've forgotten those dark days....and they really haven't been that long ago, even for me.

If you're still hiding out in the closet and reading this, here's a place for some information for you. The Human Rights Campaign has excellent resources available as do other organizations. Make sure you make balanced, healthy decisions that are good for the long-term of your life. Don't make them with stress, strain or any human manipulation. Make them because you're an amazing individual. Make them with as much confidence as you can find, hold your head high, and, in your own perfect timing, go tell someone......"I'm Gay," even if it's at the Cheesecake Factory. I'd be glad to listen.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

When HIV Strikes Close to Home



As the city bus pulled away from the curb the rain continued. Gray, wet, constant. We sat toward the back, on the left side. Me, here in this city I knew a few things about from my numerous visits, and him, a friend I'd known for only a year or two. Always a smile. Always up. Everyone knew him. "Oh yea, he's a great guy," they would all say. And he was, that's for sure. I had seen him earlier that same day in the office with several of our mutual friends. I had walked into a closed-door meeting and noticed that a couple of them had maybe been crying or something. Definitely a meeting for some particular reason but I didn't give it too much more thought. I just knew that I'd come for a visit with him....and boy was I happy. You know those people you really enjoy being around? That's the kind of feeling I had when I had packed my bags for the trip early that morning. And now, with no car, we were on the #12 Sandy Boulevard bus on our way to his apartment in downtown. I really liked it here. Rained a lot. But it sure was pretty. Everything green, lots of flowers, and not so cold in the winter time. He said he had something to tell me. Okay. We had just returned a week or so earlier from a great time in Mexico with eleven of our closest friends. Cabo San Lucas. All thirteen of us at a resort that was getting ready to close. So there were no other guests at the resort, just us. I can't remember if it was the first or second day when we turned the pool area into a clothing-optional area. But we did. He said that he had been to the doctor and had some blood work taken. The results were not good. HIV, he said. "Do you know what that is?" Nope, I didn't know that much about it. I mean, I knew what it was. But certainly no one I knew had it. Oh, but they did....he did. And he was in the painful process of telling his friends. You see, on this Mexico trip, we had become much better friends than we had been. I had been divorced earlier that year and he was nearing the end of a not-so-good 12-year relationship. We had become close. So close that we were now going to spend the week together at his place. And now he was telling me what? HIV? I was ignorant, knew very little. But I knew it wasn't good. And I knew that I was now crying, my head turned and staring through the fogged-up window of the bus as we splashed our way down the road. And then, the words that still ring in my ears......interesting because I can't totally recall exactly what they were.....but the heavy emotion behind them hits me like a ton of bricks even today. Was it "Will you still be my friend?" or was it "Do you still want to keep on having this relationship with me?" It felt, for that one fleeting second of time hanging in the air, like he was on one planet and me on another......miles, universes, apart. Space and major distance. I could feel him separating himself from the rest of "us." Those without HIV on one side and those who didn't have it on the other side. I could tell that he had struggled to bring himself to even deal with it let alone the fight to tell others that, at some point, he'd been exposed to one of the world's worst plights.....and now it was his plight.....and now he was trying to reach across what seemed like miles of inky, murky distance and grab onto my hand of friendship. It was a dark moment in my life. But at the same time, I reached right back. He needed the hand and I needed to extend it. Of course I'd still be his friend. Who cares what he had. I mean, my dad had died of Lou Gehrig's disease. My god, that was a living hell to go through. I'd had many cancers in my family, suicide, multiple sclerosis, alcoholism. Those were the times that we drew together, not separated. And this should be no different. I don't think I had any idea of what I was truly saying or doing that day.....but I thought I did. You know those surreal times when everything seems to happens all at once. Decisions are being made and words are being said at rapid rates of speed. I just knew that, as sad as I was and as nervous and scared as he was, that we needed to be friends and hold on tight. Sort of like when a hurricane or tornado is coming....head for the cellar, all together......one. The road has been bumpy, up and down, crazy at times. But it was that day that started it all. Fear of rejection on his face and in his voice. And my weak struggling words "Of course I'll be your friend." I reached out and, for the very first time ever, pulled his hand and mine together.....down between the two of us where it was warm, dry, and safe. I knew it was time to draw together and not be apart. That's what friendships are all about. For healing and not for hurt.





Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow, Fake Trees, Snoring, and (No) Sex


The frozen white specks from the cold winter sky have (sort of) arrived. For those of us in Portland, it usually doesn't happen when it's forecast too....and always does when no one expects it. It's not a rarity here but really doesn't happen that much. So for 20 beautiful minutes yesterday afternoon, it came down. Right after the snap-crackle-pop appointment with my D.O. And a little after 5 this morning, it happened again....stuck just enough to be beautiful. Supposed to fly to a meeting this morning but it was cancelled. Even more snow in Seattle than in Portland. We just plain old don't handle it well....roads are a mess, people freak out and don't know how to drive on it. So, I think the (fake, plastic, made in China) tree is going up this morning. But first it has to be pulled out of its little cardboard box, complete with handle attached. It's in the basement now. We've finished a pot of coffee (Coffee Mate eggnog creamer, of course). Time to light the proverbial firecracker under our ass and get going. Last year, we waited so long that it was nearly past spring break by the time the tree went up. What is it about growing older that takes the excitement and steam out of holidays and other special days. Honestly, sometimes it's so ho-hum. We don't do gifts for either family any longer which is one of the smartest decisions we've made in recent years. Hell, what else do I need? Except for a new spine and neck, the ability to sleep through the night undisturbed, and a little less shimmer on the balding spot at the top of my head (I hear that jock itch powder can take the shine away.)

Last night he popped a couple of NyQuil night time tablets because he hasn't been feeling well. After we climbed into our warm bed and slithered underneath the down comforter, he started putting Vick's vapo-rub under his nose (to help him breathe better). He had already squirted Astelin up his nose to clear things up "up there." And now, the crowning glory, he opens up a new box of Breathe Right Strips from Walgreen's. You see, we've been fighting this snoring thing lately.....and we're pulling out all of the stops to get it nipped. So, with one of us trying to read the tiny-tiny instructions on the box, and with him holding the sticky side of the nose strip hovered precariously above his snout, he lowers the thing into place.....perfectly. And I start to sort of fool around a little. You know, running my cold hands down under the covers thing. And he turns to me and says (with all of the sweetness and smiles that he's known for): "Oh yea, just wait until I've taken my night time medication, squirted Astelin up my nose, smeared Vick's under my nose, and hooked a plastic strip to the top of my nose and then try to fool with me......Not Tonight." We both laughed, pulled the comforter up around our necks, and went to sleep....spooning together just like a perfect fit. Ah, who needs fooling around anyway? Oh, there was not a snore all night......my gosh, how could there have been?

I'm really thankful for the blogosphere opening up for me and being able to meet so many new people around the world. It's been a month right now since I started blogging. To all of you who have posted, commented, and emailed, thank you so much. You're awesome. I really enjoy hearing from you.

And now, off to make another pot of coffee and put the tree up! Happy, safe, and warm journeys to you all today.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Holidays....Time for Random Acts of Kindness

It's official! The holiday (whatever holiday you want include is fine with me....Arbor Day, Secretary Week, Clean the Bathtub Week, whatever) season has officially started. We don't exchange presents with our families--but for some reason we were out of bed at 05:30 yesterday and off to Best Buy, bought gas, went to Target, had breakfast (potato pancakes), Barnes and Noble (December issues of Out and The Advocate), and JC Penney's.....is there something wrong with this picture? We actually find it kind of fun when there is no agenda or obligation. I think we're weirder than I thought we were.

I'm teaming up with my fellow blogger at Mr. Joe Blog's Blog. He's putting together a, hopefully, long list of those who have done random acts of kindness and are willing to share their story. He is trying to inspire all of us to be better people and to keep those less fortunate than ourselves in mind. I'd like to encourage you to visit his site and either email him (it's in his profile) or attach a comment to his posting on the subject. Years ago, a friend told me that his family takes whatever money they were going to spend on gifts for others and buys a pile of warm blankets. Then, they load the whole family in the car and go looking for those on the streets, under the bridges, or wrapped up in cardboard sleeping and give them a blanket. If your family has ever had someone you know personally in one of these terrible situations, you'll know exactly where I'm coming from. An amazing opportunity! I hope you'll visit Mr. Joe Blog's Blog and send him a story to post. It can be helping somebody in need, giving of your time, help or advice. It can even be anonymous. He's really hoping to kind of propel a Pay It Forward type of wave. Let's have fun with this thing and see if our world can be just a little bit better of a place to live.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thankfulness 101



Today, tomorrow and, I hope, every normal, average day forever, I want to be thankful. Don't sigh....I know it's Thanksgiving and that it's sappy, emotional, and even expected that I should write some sort of expected message on the subject--along with the myriad of other writers across our nation. Years ago, we started Gratitude Journals. Believe me, we meant well. We tried to write in these little journals five things each day that we were grateful for. We did it regularly for a month or two. I saw them just the other day...hiding out in a drawer. Are we any less thankful? Nope. Not at all. In fact, we are two very thankful gay guys. Frequently saying to one another "we sure have a lot to be thankful for." And we do. I refuse to do a list. It would be long, belabored, and unnecessary. It goes so far beyond geography, family, friends, health, finances, jobs, insurance, blah blah blah. Or even the card that you may feel you've been dealt in life. It's an attitude, a way of life, a choosing of one's heart and mind to live in a certain way. A sort of intersecting of the spirit, the soul, the heart, the head. Doesn't really have anything to do with what we have or don't have. Whether our cupboard is full or empty.....matters not. Job or no job. Who cares. On this, the eve before a particular day decreed on a calendar, and not unlike many other similar days, we are thankful, grateful, appreciative. As the food is being shoved in, licked up off the plate, and remade into leftover sandwiches, we are thankful, grateful, and any other similar adjective you can dig up. We're going to be tomorrow too. Oh, and the next day also. And did I mention next week? Live and, with humbleness, give thanks.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Crossing The Bridge to Civil Unions

There is a breath of fresh air floating around recently. Fueled by a decidedly blue electorate (I just keep thinking "Go Big Blue") there seems to be new agendas and ideas coming next year...as there should be. God knows we've been beaten down, hated, and listed as secondary citizens long enough. Take a look at this article from Gay Rights Watch, a local blog that keeps us up to date on the comings and goings around Portland and Oregon. It appears that civil union legislation may definitely be on the agenda next session here in Oregon. We've now got our former nasty old House speaker out of that position (Minnis in the article). She's a real pro at staying in cahoots with local religious right folks and screwed us over bad in the last house session (god, I almost sound like a victim, don't I???). Looks like she'll (hopefully) be paying for it in 2007. Let's call it a year of victory, refreshing, and renewal. Drinks all around!!

Don't miss out on this beautiful video. You'd better grab a hankie. It definitely pulls at the heart strings but also is a good reminder for us to continue to cross the bridge in our lives. You know what I mean: press forward, look ahead, and keep on keeping on.

"Having put your hand to the plow, don't look back....." Enjoy, my friends, enjoy

Friday, November 17, 2006

The Knot

It's dark, I'm alone because he just climbed out of bed. Turned over and kind of grabbed his pillow cause it feels better like that. Seems cold, too, but he'll have the heat turned up soon. He's sweet that way. But there's this knot in my stomach, I think. Maybe I'll skip coffee this morning to see if that takes care of it. Thinking, wondering, tossing. I remember a similar knot. Sixteen long years ago today.

We had met in 1980, the two of us in college age Sunday school together at church. She in her pretty blue and white dress. God knows what I was wearing in those days but I'm sure it was accompanied by some locks of nicely feathered back hair. We became the best of friends. Vacations together, plenty of movies, shared food, friends and experiences. Me at her parent's house for holidays and she at mine. We both joined a traveling Christian musical group and criss-crossed the US, Europe, and Asia together. What's so wrong with that?

And it was on one of those musical tours in the summer of 1990 that I went to see her perform at a big evangelical church in Salt Lake City. She played in the orchestra. Bass guitar and damn good at it. I had struggled for the past couple of years with the gay thing...but we didn't call it that in Idaho. Was I? Wasn't I? Did anybody really care except for me? Do you think anybody knew? Tried the roommate thing. Yea, right, sure he's your roommate. Let's not say anything to him and maybe this phase will pass. But, my god, these emotions. Up and down. Back and forth. It sure felt comfortable to be with him. But it just wasn't right. That's what they said. The church. The Bible. And so, I join her in Salt Lake City with a handwritten letter from me to her. We sat in the car on the very hot August afternoon. "Will you marry me." I just knew that I could get past these feelings. Past the weirdness and uncomfortableness of being too close with her. Or any other female for that matter. Jesus would help me. And, plus, it can't be that hard. I mean, you just do it. Like walking down the street.

November 17, 1990, found us at a huge Assembly of God church in Lewiston, Idaho. Me scared to death. She nervous as a hen. My best man was my former roommate (yep, THAT roommate...oh god, the tangled webs that we weave). He was trying to be so understanding. But he didn't. Neither did I, but I could, in time. Another groomsman and his family were such close friends. Surely if they had thought I was making a crazy decision they would have said something. I mean, I'd spent more time with them than practically anybody....they would be able to tell. And there was my brother, the third groomsman. God bless him....he's the only one of the three still around in my life today. Thankfully. Do you think he knew? We'd never been close but I'm sure he'd say something. So the wedding begins with that ever-so-popular After All. You do remember, don't you....right at the top of the charts in 1989. Peter Cetera and Cher? I will never forget standing in the long hallway that ran alongside the sanctuary. Standing with my good friend and pastor, looking through the narrow windows into the sanctuary. All decorated with tons of flowers. Special-order flowers that they didn't have in stock in Lewiston. Ironically, Birds of Paradise flowers. A couple hundred friends and family there. All dressed up, hair coiffed, wedding gifts and cards left properly at the door on the gift table. Everybody on their best behavior. (I'm shaking inside.) I couldn't believe that the day was finally here. (Still more shaking only now with dry mouth and heavy swallowing.) And I couldn't believe I was actually going through with this. Remember, Jesus will help you.

Collapse. Failure. Pain and heartache. As in any relationship, there was no shortage of struggle and sleepless nights. Anger built and tempers flared, regularly. Marriage counseling. Personality tests. Prayer time and special sessions with the pastor. Workbooks to complete. Answers to be had. For god's sake, there had to be answers to this mess. There's absolutely nothing worse than being in the wrong situation at the wrong time with the wrong person and living the wrong life. It was totally obnoxious. And nobody knew it better than me.....and she. And us. Together in the house on Kalmia. Built from our ideas, our plans, our interior designs. (And why nobody knew about me at this point was more than I'll ever know.....I mean, the house looked good.....really good........gay good.....but in Idaho we didn't call it that.)

I remember laying on the couch at the home of the only gay people I knew at the time. They couldn't figure it out. (Well, looking back, I'm actually sure they had it figured out.) Nobody had ever been able to, not even me. I squirmed, digressed, unable to say to anybody that "I was gay." I just remember the tears. And the two of them sitting across from me in separate chairs in their beautiful home. Trying to help me. Trying to make me comfortable. Trying to pave the way for me to come out! And being very good at letting me know that they were there for me. It would be OK. And the heavy words finally fell from my mouth "I don't know how much longer I can do this." And I couldn't. And I didn't, very well.

And so, the knot. The knot on the day I asked her to marry me. The knot on the day I looked dazed through the sanctuary windows at all of those people ready to watch us get married. The knot in the ceremony when the two separate candles come together to light the one unity candle as the couple kneels at the alter for prayer. The many knots during the hateful and disgusting times when you say things and treat someone so badly that you just know it's not right. And, now, today, the tears as I write. Running down my face. Tears streaming into the lake where God says he'll collect all of our tears. I hear a siren now. Outside, blocks away, off to some emergency or somebody in trouble.

I was in trouble once. Bad trouble in a worsening situation. Going absolutely nowhere. I'm glad I'm not there any longer. Very glad. She has nothing to do with me any longer. I tried. I think she tried. She just couldn't do it. "Please don't ever contact me again" were the last words I ever heard from her. In an email. Ouch. They still ring in my ears. I know nothing of her story or the road she has traveled since the day she moved out and left a note that "I just can't do this any longer." And I know she couldn't. Me either. So, today, the knot. Remembering, reminiscing, thinking, feeling, crying. Sad that it ever happened. Glad that it's over.

And very glad that my husband turned up the heat this morning. He's sweet that way.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Watch Out For Falling Prices (and T-Shirts!)




As if anybody needs another reason not to support any business that doesn't pay its hard-working employees enough to keep their children off welfare rolls, here is yet another compelling argument to drive on by your local Wal-Mart before you get hit with more than falling prices. Last week, blog site Bent Corner broke a story that WM was selling a particular t-shirt bearing a striking (exact?) resemblance to a Nazi SS symbol. The "Death's Head" (German Totenkopf) symbol was worn by the 3rd SS Division Totenkopf. The t-shirt is nearly an exact replica. There are cool t-shirts by the thousands on the market right now with millions clamoring to pick up the tightest, trendiest ones....you know, the ones that will make our pecs poke out and our six-pack ripple (I'm on my way to a whole case). But this is not one of them. Plenty has happened in the nearly a week since WM was made aware of this particular design. You can read about it's details in Bent Corner as well as a little "Murder She Wrote" type of investigation by another blogger Scott-O-Rama. Just last November, I had the life-altering opportunity to visit my second and third Nazi concentration/death camps. In February 2004, I had been to Sachsenhausen near Berlin and then November 2005 visited Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. Let's save the sobering details of those visits for another time. Suffice it to say that there is no excuse for the propagation of Nazi symbols or any other type of hate. Even in a country where many of us support and appreciate free speech and opinion, there are things that shouldn't be done simply because they can be done...especially when it comes at someone else's expense.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ah, A Great Way To Start The Week

It doesn't get much better than this. Enjoy. I hope you're all having a better Monday than ours. And when you're done listening, play around with making your own. You'll absolutely die laughing!

http://www.careerbuilder.com/monk-e-mail/Default.aspx?mid=16043085&cbRecursionCnt=1&cbsid=fe97c1ffd8dd4aa981658b9ba7a59e01-216758720-XN-2

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Deliciously Frittered Away Time That Feeds The Soul

How do I accurately explain the warmth and wonderfulness of our neighborhood (is "wonderfulness" a word??). It's been raining unbelievable amounts for a few weeks now. We've had 8.7 inches since October 1--many places around us are up to more than 20 inches in that same time frame. Windshield wiper blades scrape back and forth in near constant motion, intersections are flooded with water trying its best to make it down the drains but being blocked by inches-deep colorful leaves that plug up the street drains. I rarely mind the rain....in fact it bring a sense of comfort and solitude sometimes....but plenty of folks around here survive on anti-depressants and need their time away in the sun during the winter. Friday afternoon was one of those gray, wet days (and the good news is that winter isn't officially even here yet!).

The phone rings, it's our fantastic neighbors calling (you know, the kind of neighbors where you get to use the back door instead of the front): "Hey, what are you guys doing tonight? It's so rainy and dreary....would you like to come over for dinner?"

Me: "Definitely, we'll be there." (Go ahead, twist my arm.) So, the husband and me were more than happy to scratch our tentative plans to go see "Conventioneers."

Out comes a bottle of deliciously yummy French red wine (given to us by the Lufthansa flight attendant crew last fall on our European adventure); a couple of fresh-out-of-the-oven homemade chicken pot pies filled with potatoes, broccoli, carrots, onion; a very cool salad with apples, greens, and an awesome dressing; creamy hot polenta baked with garlic, cheese and other goodies buried deep inside; followed by warm apple crisp with whole crunchy cinnamon sticks straight out of the oven. Oh, and did I mention the aromatic hot fresh tea? I mean, the whole evening was exactly the reason we love living right here. The comforting sense of being in a neighborhood, the warmth of sharing the end of a busy week in the home of good friends. To know that it's pouring gray wet rain outside (and that it's going to continue for many months to come) and, yet, you're inside around an old, incredibly heavy, farm table with nine very cool people...sharing, listening, interrupting, laughing, being crazy, talking politics, work, food, meeting a very nice gay couple for the first time. You know what I mean.....it's something about the safety of community, of belonging, inclusivity, of not having to dress up or put on your pretty going-out face (which is getting harder and harder to accomplish), of being able to ask questions or make comments without being judged or accused.....so totally filled with acceptance, warmth, caring, a net of security. I couldn't have crafted a better time. And we didn't have to travel to some far-flung corner of the globe. It was right here in our neighborhood, with its beautiful tree-lined streets and tons of brightly-colored leaves on the soaked ground while the wind blew and the cold rains fell. It was "deliciously frittered away time that fed the soul." We were more than taken care of, more than wrapped up in a blanket on a cold day, more than chicken soup when you're sick. Much more.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

In the State of "No"

I am so stinking proud of a ton of things that happened yesterday...the list is long and wonderful and warm and so very cool. Feels like a breath of fresh air--like hope has finally come back--just like rain on the desert--like we've won the lottery! Seems that much of our nation finally caught up with what many of us knew several years back...that we were on the wrong, screwed up, track. One of my most favorite moments of yesterday's elections was the "NO" vote in the state of Arizona on their proposition to define marriage as one man and one woman. Arizona is the only state so far to achieve this monumental position. Go, AZ! Just like the Fox News Network, you guys in the Grand Canyon state are "Fair and Balanced." (I'm kidding......) I hope that the rest of our nation is able to catch the wave that AZ has set...and, eventually, it begins to ripple from coast to coast. And the amazing irony of the whole deal is that I get to spend tonight in Phoenix. What a great place to bask in the glory! I am so glad, so proud, so appreciative......of the voters, of being able to stay in this great state tonight, of so many blessings like this huge one. Makes me sad about my homestate of Idaho though. They are not so nearly fair and balanced. Is it so wrong to hate something about your home state? My mom would never let us use the word "hate".....it was "strongly dislike" which is what I'm thinking about ID right now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

It's My Flag Too.....VOTE!


Early Monday morning. A new, fresh week ahead. Last week's achievements and failures are behind. Tomorow is a big day, very big. Hopeful, pensive, nervous. Here's an amazing clip from fellow blogger Trailhead:

http://wanderawhile.blogspot.com/2006/11/sometimes-clothes-do-not-make-man.html

And here's one I found quite a while ago. Time doesn't always change or heal wounds. Sometimes, the sentiments only worsen.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=bHDeJyQhzr4

Tomorrow is an important day. If you haven't already, VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE VOTE

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Death of a President


An extremely rainy night in Portland, last night was. Windy, warm, deep puddles of muddy water everywhere. Wool hats and coats were soaked. Everyone running to wherever they had to go, walking not really smart unless you're totally into getting wet. My partner was in the basement-- ironing one of the more than 30 shirts that had piled up over a month or so. Now, don't get on my case about keeping his pretty face in the basement, working away. He offered. And most of the shirts were his (he's gonna kill me). But, I digress. We had passed the very old and cool Hollywood Theater earlier in the afternoon and I told him then that I was going to check out the movies when we got home. I spotted two that I wanted to see. It's now straight-up 4:00 and Death of A President starts at 4:45. Did he want to keep on ironing or screw it and get a move-on for the movie? Sounds like an easy answer, but sometimes we're not so good at impromptu. Yesterday, for some reason, was a little different. He yanked the ironing cord out of the electrical outlet and we were off. In a flash. I'm still digressing. The movie is an amazingly powerful fictional documentary about the assassination of George W. Bush next October 2007. It follows the day of the shooting and the subsequent FBI investigation and search for the assassin. Unbelievably gripping. Tons of interesting, behind-the-scenes kind of information. And a script so very well written. Even the would-be Republicans seemed believable. Their scripts were absolutely spot-on...exactly the way they would look, feel, speak, react. Very, eerily, believable. And we both were surprised at how truly sad we felt over the President's death. In spite of the quite-clear fact that we can't stand the dude, and we even knew what was coming in the movie, we both were amazingly sad. The second half of the movie deals with the search for the killer. The interviews become more and more painful as the story unfolds. When the flick ended, we felt empty, worn out, tired. You'll definitely have more material than you need to keep you talking for awhile. And, remember, the movie is not true. You'll be amazed at how lifelike it leaves you feeling. As great as it was, and I'm really glad we went, I told him that I'd rather have seen the other movie at the theater.....something about cancer, loving, relationships, dying. Ah, we'll save those emotions for another day.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Pilgrim Pride


I changed out the pumpkin flag that was up for Halloween (31 trick or treaters, by the way) and put up the cornucopia for Thanksgiving this morning. I mean, you ought to see the little drawer down in our basement where we keep all of our holiday and special occasion flags--all neatly in chronological order, folded, and ready to go the next time around. Totally gay. The larger rainbow flag came to live with us this last summer after we found it at Portland Pride. It's huge, colorful, and really looks cool against the green paint on the house. I've always sworn off having one without any very good reason...but the BF wanted one and it really does look good. We try to hang it out every chance we get. But this morning, for some reason, it hit me: Do you think the Pilgrims and early settlers of the 1600-1700's could have possibly co-existed with "we alternative types" among their pioneering ranks? Reminds me of a book that my friend MJ wrote a few years back dealing with just that...naughty life in the 1700s in the hills of the Northeast US. I'm pretty sure that they didn't identified as GLBT at that point--can you imagine the Monday Night Meeting of the Plymouth Rock GLBT Pilgrims? But you know, "Pilgrim Pride" has a definite ring to it. I'll bet there were plenty of lesbians and gays, keeping all to themselves.....I mean, you can't stick ALL of the women together in their sexy, tight full-length dresses, sleeves to the wrist, and hats tied beneath their pale white chins in one village, with the guys all off to war, and expect nothing to happen. Days of Our Lives and Another World were not around yet...they had to do something all afternoon to occupy their time. (My god, does this sound sexist or what??) And what about those sexy, sinewy dudes all off to battle in the steep hills and narrow valleys--gone for long months at a time, all by themselves, no good looking wilderness chicks in sight, working together in tight quarters, sweating, bleeding from wounds, tying up each other's injuries, sacking out on the ground during very cold, wet nights around the crackling fire. Staring up into the inky black sky at night, wishing that the totally hot mountain guy in the next sleeping bag (do you suppose that Coleman sleeping bags were around then?) would scoot a little closer. Oh my gosh, it could get pretty crazy--and I'll bet it did! So, yeah, I think it's OK to fly these flags together......Co-existence rocks, doesn't it? It always has.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

(More) Hypocrisy of the (Well-Known) Saints

One of the largest right-wing evangelical Christian churches in our country lost its senior pastor today after a gay escort came forward to say that he had sexual relations with Pastor Ted Haggard at the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs. Happening not once, but over three years. Nice. Real nice. Haggard is one of the most vile opponents of gays along with fellow cronie, and equally hateful, Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Dobson struggled to come to Haggard's defense and rescue the hypocritcal pervert. Can't you just see him waving his hands in this air at his Sunday services...the air thick with the praise music from the higher-than-thou orchestra and singers.....sweat pouring from his brow...right hand holding the made-for-television-broadcasts Bible up in the air (you know, the Bible with the shiny sparkling edges so that the lights can pick up on it) and spewing his poor, watered-down, untrue, made up version of how God hates the gays. Having had much experience in this type of church and with this type of pastor, and having been an unfortunate prodigy of how to say one thing with one side of your mouth and then do something else with the other side, I SAY ENOUGH. I have spent hundreds of hours on the soft padded pews in churches all across the globe. Always thinking, wondering, crying, questioning. Wondering where Jesus was in all of this...not. So, good luck Mr. Haggard et. al. I used to look up to your type, admiring, striving to be like. God, I'm glad that I was saved from that. (Reminds me of the bumper sticker: "God, save me from your followers"...and with good reason.) Looks like while all of us perverted gays, with our "agenda," were doing our best to keep our noses clean so that possibly you self-righteous types might view us more accordingly....you were climbing in between the sin-laden sheets of cover-up, deceit, and (again) hypocrisy. How dare you. Jesus is far from you and your message and your followers. Thankfully. There is so much to be done.....you know, feeding the poor, taking care of those who are less fortunate...doing the things that Jesus asked of us. It's OK, don't you worry about it....we'll take care of it while you're off doing unmentionables with your gay buddy. By the way, how much does a sleeze-bag hotel charge by the hour now? Oh, and as long as we're asking, was the dude at least cute? Oh, and say now, how are the wife and kids? Tell them hi from all of us.

http://www.towleroad.com/2006/11/gay_escort_clai.html

(Thanks to Andy Towle over at Towelrod for the link.)

Here's another called Rick Santorum's Republican Child Molesters. It's at http://www.armchairsubversive.com It'll give you real good idea of where our family values and morals party is headed......you know, sort of a warm and cozy feeling inside when you realize that good Christian Republicans are helping out our nation's children. Talk about "terrorists"...they are right here amongst us!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Stuffed Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, Carmelized Brussel Sprouts

Just took a peek at fellow blogger Homer's site and saw his entry on one of my favorite foods ... potatoes. Reminded me to give you the run-down on tonight's creation in the kitchen:
1. Thick-cut pork chops (nearly a vegetarian, but I eat pork chops....explain that one)....stuff with mixture of fat-free cream cheese, roasted red peppers, carmelized onions, can of chopped green chilis, one tablespoon salsa. Coat in breadcrumbs, place in greased baking dish. 350 for 45 minutes and then down to 225 or so for another hour....longer the better....nice and tender.
2. Baked potatoes.....large pieces....in a very yummy mixture of spicy chili oil, essence of Emeril seasoning, season salt, and lemon pepper. 400 degrees for an hour......
3. Fresh brussel sprouts cut in half, thin strips of sweet onion, and leftover roasted red peppers from the pork chops above. All go in the skillet with a little balsamic vinegar, sugar, hot chili oil, salt and pepper, and a little juice (I used apple....any kind will do). I like to use juice instead of water anytime I need to steam something. In spite of the amazing fact that my brother-in-law T screwed up his face and made terrible facial contortions over the brussel sprouts, they were delicious.....in fact, he moved ONE of the TWO that he had to my plate!