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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Tramping Around Like Any Good Blogger Should

I've been tramping around this week. Spent Wednesday evening in Orlando with Sorted and his wonderful man, CTO City, and Actorschmactor at the Orlando Ale House. It was my third visit, and the last for a while. As expected, we had a blast. Thank you guys for taking the time to be such great hosts and have dinner with me. You're the best.

Last night, I met Jimmi for the first time in Phoenix. We had such a great, relaxing evening. Began with dinner at Ticoz complete with a coconut/lime mojito and a blood orange margarita. We enjoyed getting to know each other and then moved down the road to Kobalt where we continued the good times. I can't believe he spent a Saturday evening with me! I thought that only the special girls got that time frame reserved for them. Jimmi, you're awesome....I had a blast.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Have someone ever extended a portion of grace to you? Have you ever extended grace to someone else? "Of course" is probably the answer to both. There are numerous formal definitions to the word "grace." There is the "seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion" which reminds me of old classic movies, with beautiful women and men, gliding gracefully across the dance floor. It also reminds me of a couple of people I know who carry themselves in such a graceful way. If I ask a born-again Christian about the word, I'm nearly positive I'll hear a response about "divine love and protection bestowed freely on people; the state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God; or an excellence or power granted by God." Many a sermon has been preached along those lines. And then there is the short prayer said before many a meal or the title that some are called such as "His Grace." That's what I like my honey to call me in more formal settings....you know, maybe at a silver tea service gathering among the formally dressed and coiffed.

But have you ever been granted "mercy; clemency; a favor rendered by one who need not do so; a temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve"? I have. There have been numerous times in my life when I've been a real asshole and done or said things that should have brought down terrible consequences for me. And sometimes they have. Or said things to others in a fit of anger or without thinking before speaking. Sometimes, that has led to a knock-down, drag-out fight. Other times, the person just looked at me and said "I understand." No retribution, no hatred, no rebuttal. Grace extended. Or mistakes made that can't be undone....it's too late.....I've really screwed up. And there was someone else saying "I'm going to overlook it. I know you've made a mistake and won't do it again." And suddenly it's like you have a new lease on life. A new chance and a new fresh start. And at some other point just beyond that, you realize that, by all rights, you should have been sent to the gallows or dungeon. But that you weren't. If you have been there, and I know you have, you know exactly what I mean. I did not used to be a person who would easily ask for forgiveness and say "I'm sorry." And I am not proud of that. I hope I'm getting better. I'm trying to "put on the softer side of Sear's" as the commercial goes.

Have you extended grace to anyone recently? I hope so. Because I believe in karma or "it all comes back around." It's just a way of life that I hope to foster. And I hate the thought of what not doing it does to my physical and emotional body....in my head and heart. Even if they deserve the worst....and many times, they do. Just like I have, numerous times. I think of the hurt I caused my ex-wife when I even married her in the first place knowing that it didn't stand much of a chance. I think of the harmful, unmerited words uttered to my partner in fits of anger. I think of uncalled for sighs or rolls of the eyes or "you're annoying me" body language I have been prone to from time to time. Or actions taken that cannot be reversed. It's not pretty. And, still, the grace was offered.

I hope you'll pass grace along to someone today who doesn't deserve it. Someone who yells at you, doesn't speak back when spoken to, cuts you off in traffic -- or, more personally, your family, friends, or partner when they have bad attitudes and tell you that you're a pain in the butt. You probably are.

And that's the perfect time to reach out, extend grace and unmerited favor, and begin to develop into a different type of person. The person like Grace Kelly, Mother Teresa, or one of those who we think of when we think about the word "grace."

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Daring to Bare It All

"Anthropologists logically presume that humans originally lived naked, without clothing, as their natural state." This quote from Wikipedia is one that I can relate to. After 35 years of hiding, covering, and afraid for anyone to see me for who I am, I have given up on all of that crap. I pretty much am a "take me as I am" kind of guy. A little abrasive sometimes, opinionated, and sort of just "out there." It's me! And, occasionally, I'm even a nice guy (imagine that).

I grew up in a household of horribly modest people. Good people, beautiful people...but not a bare ass cheek would be seen. I would go to take my bath, close the door, lock the door, and then even pull out the sliding drawer that would block the door from being opened....even if the intruder would use a little paper clip to unlock the door from the outside and disgrace me. And a wash cloth always stood as sentry -- nearby, waiting -- just in case the fortress was invaded. Those days are far gone. I'll bet that my hubby will rue the day that he and a good friend took me to my first nude beach. I haven't stopped going since.

I had just moved to Portland....it was my first hot summer. They decided to take me to Rooster Rock State Park, about 20 miles east up the Columbia River Gorge. Truly, an unbelievable place to spend the afternoon. I remember my heart racing and eyes darting around....nervous, scared, and wondering. They both kept their shirts on. I took the plunge and dropped it all. And now I can't quit.

As the weather warms, I'm already thinking about how high the river levels still are...and that takes up much of the beach and leaves the paths muddy. We've got two beaches here and both are incredibly amazing places to go au natural. I've met some people there, read books, layed in the sun, listened to every conversation you can imagine, seen families with children, watched heterosexual couples go at it, and (with any luck) I'll have an I-pod to take with me this summer. I even bought a season parking pass last year at Sauvie Island. I have a good friend who likes to go to. So, when we can, we go together. Snacks, drinks, and good conversation for the day. Oh, and major amounts of sunscreen and mosquito spray too. Can't have bugs biting our little wee-wee's. Weekends are very busy....you have to get their early. The weekdays, when most are at work, are some of the greatest times ever. Quiet, peaceful, sometimes I'm the only one there. The barges carrying wheat go up and down the river at Rooster Rock. The huge ships carrying new Hyundais and Toyotas to Portland pass by Sauvie Island.

I've run across people that I know....and it can get just a little uncomfortable for a minute or two. But I've learned that I am right there with the anthropologists when I feel as free and good as I do naked in the sunshine on a warm summer afternoon. No cares, no worries -- and, certainly, no clothes to cover up anything. What in the world is there to hide...really? I never thought I'd be this way. Never in a million years. I spent so much of my early life being embarrassed and shy about my skinny white body. My discovery has led me to know that we're all different, with or without clothes. The spectrum is wide on who will drop their drawers at the beach. But, I promise you, it doesn't really matter. When you're 90 years old, it will definitely not be something that I regretted doing.

So whatever it is that brings you pleasure, enjoyment, and peace in your life, go for it. Life is definitely too short for worrying about having a good time.
Side Note: I'm on my way back to Orlando tonight for another dinner with The Bloggers of Orlando tomorrow night. It's my third visit in six weeks. I just can't quit.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


Are you a procrastinator? As I started into thinking about this post, I was going to tell you that I'm not. And, for the most part, I'm definitely not. I believe in getting things done. The only thing I hate worse than having to do something is the feeling that there's something that needs to be done that has not been done.....does that make sense? I hate things hanging over my head. Like the two gallons of paint that are at the top of our stairs...in our bedroom. The date on the top of the can? February 17, 2006. Yes, over a year it's been sitting there. It's actually been put into the closet at the top of the stairs now. Out of sight but not out of mind. No excuse, no reason.

For the most part, however, I am not a procrastinator. I am in love with getting things crossed off of my "to do" list. That's a feeling that makes the day better. I believe in putting things behind me rather than leaving them out in front of me to look at. Especially if they are unpleasant tasks. The days, weeks, and months seem to go so quickly and are so full of things that each of us must do. Every day seems to bring enough trouble of it's own. Rather than piling up yesterday's troubles along with today's, I honestly try to keep do things as they come up. The shorter amount of time they are on my to-do list, the better.
So, if you are a procrastinator, why are you? If you are not one, why are you not one? Who taught you what parameters you live by today in this regard? Do you wish you had been taught differently or are you happy with the way you are today?

Years ago, I heard someone say that there are three words that will guarantee that you're not a procrastinator and guarantee that your tasks are done on time:

"Do It Now."

Those three words are the single answer to solving procrastination. Simple, yet, truthful and the answer to solving procrastination issues. Now, where is that paintbrush? (I hope you'll enjoy the picture of our pink dogwood tree. It sits in our backyard and we love it.)

Friday, April 20, 2007

Discrimination? Not Here!

Today we woke to this headline in The Oregonian. I knew it was coming. It has been since the 1970s. 34 years to get anti-discrimination legislation passed in what has been a relatively blue state. Me and McDonald's were joined at the hip early this morning after a CT scan on my sinuses. McGriddle with bacon and cheese, hash browns, OJ, a cinnamon melt (if you haven't had one, you need to...just one) and a coffee....cream and sugar, please. And there it was....the headline poking its way into my early morning. Before I could stoop down and take a look through the paper vending machine, my eyes were wet. Totally wasn't expecting that (the moist eyes or the legislation). My favorite quotes out of the article were these: "To complete a struggle that has gone on for so long was a feeling of relief and of satisfaction that Oregon is a better place today than it was yesterday." "There are a lot of Oregonians who feel a lot better about living in the state today." Oregon is the 18th state to pass such legislation. Not that we ever have experienced it, but we'll soon be able to go into restaurants or theaters here and not fear being kicked out because we're of the same sex. Yes, it still is legal to throw someone out of a movie theater, restaurant, or other public setting in more than half of the states. It does have a religious exemption, however. Businesses that are church-run can still boot us out on the street....that's why we don't frequent placed like Elmer's. Too many church overtones in spite of good food and they contribute plenty of money to anti-gay causes in our state. There is still a motel near our home that is run by Eastside Foursquare Church. They will be able to continue turning away same-sex couples. (I think they're supposed to feel good about being able to do promote hate.) Please, don't frequent this motel or it's associated coffee shop. So, I hope you'll join us in celebrating today. Take a look at the article and enjoy. It happens so seldom in this nation anymore. Let's bask in the glory for a while. Okay?

Here's another article from today's Oregonian. Judy Shepard, the woman well-known as Matthew Shepard's mother, came to visit Jesuit High School students this week. They are preparing to present The Laramie Project next week. It's really monumental considering the conservative nature of the school. They have launched a program called "Crusade for Respect." I would throw my arms around them if I could. Mrs. Shepard says that "Hate is a learned behavior. I blame society for teaching people it's OK to hate." Today, I applaud them. They are doing their best to put an end to hate right where they live. Are you?

Thursday, April 19, 2007

East Meets West

Our Memories of India will never be the same. With the fate of Sanjaya at hand, my second meeting with The Orlando Brigade has happened! What a great evening of conversation (we could actually hear ourselves this time....as opposed to last). Met Ctocity for the first time, and alt.>Mike, Sorted, and I Deal With It all returned for second helpings of bad boy, back alley, down and dirty talk. Being in an Indian restaurant and all, we thought it appropriate to have a little toast to Sanjaya....that did a lot of good. Irony. Check out the pics. Sorted and I had spent the afternoon tooling about town, having a delicious lunch at Crispers, and shooting the breeze with each other. You guys all rock. Seriously. Again, I don't care what the papers say. You boys are good people. See you (again) next week.....same time, same channel. And best wishes to you all for a successful time this weekend in the Orlando AIDS Walk. Now, as for the coming weekend.....I'll be making stops in Phoenix and Oakland.....any takers for dinner???

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

To Thine Own Self Be True

Today I celebrate my 10th Anniversary of coming out. It was April 17, 1997, that I filed my divorce papers, went home, and began making horribly painful telephone calls to my sister, brother, and then (in person) to my mother. As most of these stories go, it was crazy and terrible at the time. Today? I wouldn't trade it for the world. I am indebted to all of my family, friends, and my partner for helping me along and taking good care of me along the way. My message of wisdom? To thine own self be true.

I'm just home from a terrific long weekend in Philadelphia with some really cool new friends that we met on our Caribbean cruise a few months back. We spent my honey's birthday there under I&A's excellent care....complete with birthday dinner at a French restaurant that sits in an old general store alongside the road. Ooh, it was yummy. We did the quick Liberty Bell-Independence Hall-Christ Church-Betsy Ross House tour, spent the afternoon at Longwood Gardens (check out the pics), drank wine and margaritas, ate delicious home-cooked food, and -- for the finale -- spent Sunday under 5 inches of rain and woke Monday morning to snow. Roads under water, the whole works. But who cared....when you're with good friends, it really doesn't matter. They took such good care of us. We're looking forward to reciprocating sometime this summer.

Tonight I am back to work.......to ORLANDO! Fly all night, rest up a bit tomorrow morning, and then Sorted has graciously taken the afternoon off to spend with me again....all of that before we meet up for dinner with some combination of alt>Mike, Achtorschmactor, I Deal With It, and whoever else may be around. This will be my second visit with "The Orlando Brigade" in a month. And, that's not the end of it....I'm going back again next week too. I tell you, my hair is going to be in a mess from the wind blowing it in every direction. The body clock is all screwed up (these sorts of things happen easier and more frequently as we age, boys....don't forget).

I'm quite remiss in reading blogs, responding to emails, and posting. My apologies....but it's going to be a bit longer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Happy Birthday to the Love of My Life

Friday will mark my honey's birthday. He is an amazing man that has faced obstacles, trials, and all of his life with determination, gladness, and always a willingness to allow himself to change and evolve into a more beautiful person. For all he does for me, and for all he puts up with, I offer this tribute to him today. I love you and Happy Birthday!

We will be out of town visiting friends in Philadelphia until next week. I won't be posting or reading your blogs until we return. Also, I'm on my way back to Orlando next week to join up with the wacky and crazy group there! Scary.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Judas. One of the twelve disciples of Jesus who betrayed him for 30 pieces of silver. He identified Jesus to the arresting soldiers by kissing Jesus...."this is the one." There are two different graphic accounts of his death. Matthew describes it as a suicide by hanging. The Acts of the Apostles describes him falling down and his bowels gushing out. Pleasant, isn't it?

You know, I played Judas one year in the Easter cantata. I remember the scene well: I was to enter stage right, in the darkness, and -- hesitantly, of course -- taking the small bag of 30 coins from the priests....their payment to me for my kissing Jesus in betrayal. Draw out the agony, the fighting of my spirit as to whether I should take this bribery payment or not. And I did. Friday night, three times on Sunday, and again on Monday night. Year after year, I was a member of our 120-voice Singing Ambassadors church choir at Central Assembly Christian Life Center in Boise. We spent the three months before Christmas and the three months before Easter rehearsing for the full weekend of cantatas.

Easter was always a busy day. Up at 05:00am for the 06:30am sunrise service. Always held by the fountain in Ann Morrison Park along the Boise River. Sometimes the weather cooperated and brought an amazing sunrise. Other times, the temperatures were freezing and hinted at frost. After the sunrise service, we all headed out to the church for a pancake breakfast followed by two services Easter morning and another Easter evening. We were exhausted by the time the whole thing was over.

Ten years since my personal coming out, I never knew that my faith would be carried down the roads that it has. I spent 35 years of my life in the pews of churches across the globe -- in addition to my own. Padded, comfortable cushions. Ate, drank, slept at the church, as it were. The assistant choir director, youth group leader, helper at camps for the kids, worked in the church's hot dog booth at the Western Idaho State Fair, sang every single night at the same fair, filed music for the church choir, chose music to be sung, directed the band and choir, sang a solo or two, put together choreography and "moves" for the choir (nothing too "worldly".....remember it's "lips, not hips" when you're inside the four walls of the church). I did it all. And happily. And in the closet.

It's weekends like this that I think back to what my life used to be. Busy at the church. Preparing. Last-minute arrangements. Phone calls. It seems a little quiet now, sometimes. No more of that hustle and bustle. No more dealings with the in's and out's of the church business. I had no idea that my faith would be made so strong because of those many years of experience. I believe in a God of inclusion today. I think I did then, too, even though things were a little muddled up at that point in my life. One that hates anger, jealousy, indifference, and injustice. One that disapproves of separation, of division, and of walls. But one that approves of loving those who may not deserve it, of giving to those who don't have, of saying "I'm sorry" when it's your turn to.

Shortly after I began blogging, I received an email from a former friend, a member of the church in Boise. Someone that I knew, but was not particularly close to. It came as a total surprise and completely out of the blue. I thought that I had saved the email to include in a future blog post. But, apparently, it has been lost. Cindy was her name. She mentioned that she had found my blog and was sad and disappointed in the way that my life had gone. "That was not the way you were brought up," she said. She said that my parents brought me up differently than that....and that my parents had prayed for me. Also that she was praying for me. She thought that my post showed my struggle between right and wrong. She really let me have it. She essentially called me a Judas of sorts. What Cindy doesn't realize is that I turned out exactly the way that my parents had raised me. Happily.

I never did respond. I had about three different lines of thought that I was going to toss back at her. But I know that she is one of many whose faith is fragile and undeveloped -- a faith with limits. Afraid of being tested and tried. Afraid of the new and scared to death of the "different." And very afraid that our world, especially the world where I performed many Easter cantatas, has ventured so far from the good teachings of the God that we claimed to know so much about. The teachings of love over hate, of bringing hope to those who need it desperately, and of putting others first....even when it doesn't feel good. We're a long way from that today. And I'm a long way from those old days of Easter cantatas. I take my knowledge and the things I learned from that period of time for exactly what they're worth. A lot. I want no anger, hatred, or bitterness because of it. I can't afford it. I'm thankful for where I am today. And that the past is exactly that. And I'm well aware that the future is bright and full of light, hope, and good energy. I'm going there. I hope you will too. I'd love some company.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Snow White and Her Foreskin

Lovely friends of our joined us last night for dinner, drinks, and a load of self-serving girl talk. You would have loved it. We've known J&A for years but seldom take the opportunity to see them -- "We should get together sometime." These guys show up with a huge Papa Murphy's chicken/garlic pizza and the most beautiful orchid in the world (pic above and more on Flickr.com). He promised me it's easy to take care of..."just three ice cubes a week." We're digging through the pizza and spinach salad and wiping our mouths daintily as girls should. Plus, we're about half way through perfectly good bottles of Red Door Pinot Gris and Red Diamond Merlot, when the alcohol-induced statement hits:

J&A: Your blog seems so prim and proper. Almost "Snow White" like.

Us: Choke and gasp. (Chunk of garlic dislodges and makes it way back up.)

J&A: Yea, makes you guys almost sound "Victorian" -- Like there are little hearts and flowers on the walls.

Us: (In my mind....."What are you.....HIGH or something?"

J&A: I mean, it's almost like "Dad and Dad" when we see you guys. You're more married than most straight couples we know.

Us: Okay, so this guy's Pinot Gris has hit hard. And then the bomb shell:

J&A: I want some, you know, scrotum and foreskin talk here. Let's talk about foreskin restoration or something. I've never missed my foreskin.

So we talk about foreskin, scrotum, and penile piercings. (Don't ask....we'll save that conversation until you're visiting us and drinking heavily.) And after we've exhausted that little bit of heavenly talk.....

J&A to Us: And we thought you guys were NOT our kinky friends.

Don't forget, kids, that Snow White did have SEVEN dwarfs (lest we consider her more pure than she really was.)

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Past, Present, Future

There is a new audio greeting for the month of April on the left-hand side....please excuse the head cold/allergy voice!.
Several years ago, I found an old friend via the internet. This guy lived near us while we were growing up in Idaho....the early 1970s. (Right after running water and electricity had been introduced to Boise.)Since then, we've corresponded a number of times. He lives not so far away and I'd love to meet up with him sometime for coffee. He has an amazing and descriptive memory. He has emailed me a number of scenarios that played out from our youth....things that I've definitely forgotten (for self preservation purposes, I think). Take a look:

You have never been one to sit still -- and quite frankly, never will be. Even in ye olden days, you were taking us all over the little burg that Boise was at that time. You had the city bus routes and times down pat. In fact, even then I knew I never had to think about such things -- you already had far in advance.

And in your room, I remember all of the places you said you'd eventually fly to. All of the places you planned on visiting. At that point it was as an airline pilot. You've never lacked for dreams, or for fulfilling them.

You had an intense love of the Carpenters. You wanted a singing group/band and had already named it 'Red Horizon'. Which -- in this flow of consciousness thing going on in my mind at the moment -- reminds me of that red window in your family room at the house on sunset/39th. Hmmmm. Now I hear your mom's voice, slightly amused at something you have done/are doing. I am slightly amused by all of it. I can hear your brother's reprimanding 5th/6th grade tone with you -- "No, Lewis!"

April 17 marks the 10th Anniversary of my coming out. This friend has really tossed out some cool memories for me to think about, process them knowing what I know today, and see how things were fitting together more than 30 years ago. Weird how our lives end up playing out because of seemingly inconsequential events that happened in our youth. It's strange to see how "the handwriting was on the walls," years before we, ourselves, even knew who we really were. And then to compare that, side by side, with the people we've evolved into. And, to take it even a step further, compare that to the human beings that we'd like to become in the future. Sort of a three-part, side-by-side comparison of the past, the present, and the future.

I'm going to meet my friend soon, I hope. He's done a nice job of allowing me to laugh and giggle as I have taken a glimpse at the nut I was as a child. It appears that not much has changed. Today, I'm thankful for those molding experiences that built me into the man I am today. I'm using the month of April to celebrate my amusing past, safe and secure present, and hopeful future. I invite you to do the same.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Piss and Happy

Today is a mixture things that piss me off and things that make me extremely happy with our world. Enjoy!

If you haven't taken a look at It's Raining Men lately, please do. We're trying to ramp this thing back up with gathering the names of new contributors and getting rid of those who don't want to be there any longer. Take a look at let me know. If you're currently on the contributor list and don't get back to me, we're going to assume that you don't want to be a part of it any longer.

From the pages of It's Raining Men, you'll find these two articles (Article 1 and Article 2) that really get my feathers up...especially so since I've been in Poland three times and have enjoyed my time there. As far as you think we've come in this global introduction of gays into our society, look out. Things are not so good and downright scary in some parts of our world. Many of us live in bubbles where "everything is okay." Others live in daily fear and fighting for their beliefs. This should make every one of us nervous. It can happen anywhere. Keep your eyes open and keep fighting for the underdog. We're only as strong as our weakest link.

I loved this advertisement for HIV currently running in France. These are the three candidates for president in France right now. I found it at Will's DesignerBlog. Can you imagine Bush, Cheney, and Rove's face on this thing? Ick. But an amazing piece of advertising.

It says "Would You Vote for me if You Knew I was HIV positive?"

And from my fellow blogger buddy Dave at Blogography.....two pieces (Happiness and Believe) that you simply must take a look at. They'll make you feel good to know people like Dave in our world.

I've been out of work sick now for close to 10 days...the longest in my career. My head congestion/cold/allergy thing is making me crazy. It's slightly better but not nearly enough to be flying around in a metal tube. I've tried everything. It's amazing how many pounds of snot can be stashed up inside of a little, closed-off, narrow opening on the front of your face.

Wishing you all safe and happy journeys this coming week. Be at peace with yourself....and then be sure to spread some around. God knows we need it.