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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Long Shadows Fall

The long shadows stretch their way across the nearly frozen earth. Most all of the myriad of trees are devoid of the frilly leaves attached by a thread to their branches during much of the year. The longest day of the year has just passed. And we've got a blue moon tomorrow -- on the very last day of 2009. Ominous and fun.

Call me crazy if you must, but I enjoy this time of year. The color of the sky is such an unusual one. (Well, that's if the sky in Portland is ever anything except for gray...which I also get into.) The blue is a quiet blue. A peaceful and unobtrusive blue. A winter sort of pale blue. There are birds, but few. We do have many flocks of beautiful geese who winter here by the hundreds. I love knowing that they are safe and able to rest here with us in this season of cold and delight. Delightfully barren. I think I also enjoy this time of year because so many other people don't. I tend to migrate toward the underdog in that way many times. The lesser known or enjoyed is often the one I gravitate toward.

It snowed about three inches across our city yesterday afternoon. It was Portland's first measurable snow of the season and created nothing but trouble. Portland is just that way. Some years (last year!) we had about 20 inches on the ground right now. And some years we have zero. It looks like the winter wonderlands that are scripted in fantasy poems, songs, plays and books. I like it when things are asleep. Quiet. In resolve. Peaceful. Contemplative. And that's the way I see winter. Especially this portion when the nights seem to stretch on forever and the warming rays of the sun are not seen nor felt. I was staring at the one of the trees outside of our window just this morning -- watching how the dark, barren branches simply hang. Nothing to do but recuperate from a long growing season. Resting up for next season. For the next big hurrah of their lives. In fact, they aren't made to keep going, to always have leaves on their branches. They are designed to regenerate and recreate each season.

Me too. Happy Fresh New Year my friends. To each of us.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Ghosts of Christmas Past

The ghosts of Christmas past have visited again. I've just returned from Mason's walk along Fremont Street -- right alongside the Rose City Cemetery in Northeast Portland. It's not unusual for me to stare through the fence at the grave stones...thinking and wondering....I'm just that kind of guy. And tonight is deliciously cold. Perfectly clear with a strong possibility of fog. I checked out the stars above and I always take a moment to enjoy the amazing color of the sky after the sun has set.

And we're alone, Mason and I, until hubby arrives in a few hours from his working trip. And it's not unusual for me to be reflective during alone times. I've been considering the many Christmas Eves, year after year, that we spent at my grandmother's home in south Boise along with every other possible family member living nearby. There would be about 30 of us complete with a table of sliced ham for sandwiches, potato salad, a giant green salad with Fritos on it, and baked beans. Great Aunt Ruth would have made what seemed like a million Santa Claus cookies for each person. And my father would drive us slowly through downtown Boise on the trip back home -- so that we could look at the department store windows with their displays and decorations. Christmas morning would find us in our pajamas, cavorting and frolicking around the living room and tree. My mother always having prepared a special holiday breakfast for us. I swear, my parents took the best care of us. I miss my dad on days like this. And I am highly aware of the nearing of the end of my mother's life. It makes me sad. I miss those days.

But tonight, happily, my lover will be home -- in the city and home that we love. We may go to our favorite late-night Christmas Eve service at a beautiful old church in downtown Portland complete with top-notch organ music and followed by everyone going outside onto the nearly-deserted streets to sing Christmas carols at midnight. Mason will be with us, of course. And tomorrow brings ten of our favorite friends and family over to share the holiday with us. We'll dine on spiral sliced ham, roasted pork tenderloin, brussel sprouts roasted with walnuts, garlic green beans, scalloped potatoes, and some delicious dessert. And it will be all better. The ghosts will be gone. Until some other memory prompts their soon return to my head.

Merry Christmas -- to friends and loved ones -- those we see frequently and those who we may never have the opportunity to meet. For those who put up with me, for those who love me and have stood next to me, I thank you. I wish you the best Christmas ever.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Where In the World Is the Cheer?

Is there any particular reason why I'm short $300 that I didn't have to spend in the first place in only a few short hours this morning? Oh yeah, groceries, a ham for Christmas, trip to Target and the liquor store. I've been on a very long six-day trip which set me down in such faraway ports as Los Angeles, Seattle multiple times, San Diego, Denver, and Dallas. I have today off, and then work the next three. And today is totally filled with errands, shopping (alas, I'm minus the aforementioned funds), we have appointments the remainder of the day and I work tomorrow. I haven't read any blogs in a week. I haven't posted here in a week. I haven't been to yoga in months. The gym hasn't seen my sweat in numerous months, either. My presence on Facebook has been pretty limited -- umm, except for that little post on Saturday evening about my watching the Glenn Beck Christmas Special on Fox News. Yeah, bitch, there's a good time. My sleep is fitful. I've been having headaches for several months now. I'm wondering why not everyone who is invited to Christmas dinner RSVPs when they are asked too -- I mean, if I'd been invited to a free Christmas dinner, I'd respond...right? I have a bad attitude and really don't have much cheer in my stocking. I've been trying to drum up some yummy childhood memories to relive with you here. But, they just aren't there. Nothing is coming to me. So, that's it. Merry Christmas for those celebrating. Well, it's Christmas anyway -- whether you celebrate it or not, really.

PS -- I haven't even brushed my teeth or taken a shower today and have been out in public! It's now 1pm.

Monday, December 14, 2009

SoCals Vocals Ramp It Up

My fellow good-friend-o-blogger buddy David over at Someone In a Tree has a cousin participating in NBC's television show The Sing Off! airing tonight through Friday. I just watched a trailer for the show -- it made me feel so good, so alive, so energized. I haven't even heard of the show until now. But I can tell you that I will be watching.

From my limited understanding, the SoCals need to end up in the finals on Wednesday in order for television audience members to be able to vote for them for the Friday finale. Obviously, David and his family have a giant stake in this deal. So, check it out, would you please? No orchestra, no instruments, no karaoke. Just hot vocals by a bunch of fired-up folks in this world of lackluster television shows and blah. I hope you'll take time to watch in your busy schedules.

My Christmas Wish List

I've just discovered what I want for Christmas. How could I have overlooked it? I'm registered at Target if you're interested.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

We Dun Been Ta Church......

We Dun Been Ta Church..... having experienced an energetic Portland tradition last night for the first time, we joined our good friends Alex and Paul at the Oregon Symphony's Gospel Christmas program at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in downtown Portland. What a great time of year to be in any city's downtown area -- with the shoppers, sparkling cold winter nights, and everyone in warm coats, stylish hats, and finger-warming gloves made in China.

We stopped first for Happy Hour at another place we'd not been to yet (you'd think we lived under a rock, for god's sake). Saucebox. A very trendy, cool place filled with sexy wait staff in black t-shirts. Sweet potato spring rolls, spicy cold Chinese noodles, onion burgers, and edamame. Oh, and liquid too -- Sidecars! Then it was off for a leisurely stroll up Portland's trademark downtown street....Broadway. Past the historic Benson Hotel and it's annual giant Christmas gingerbread house and pretty lobby tree, through Nordstrom for expensive lip balm for dry cracked winter lips worn out from kissing, into Banana Republic where I did my best to chat up a nice young salesman, a breeze through Columbia Sportswear's flagship store in which I found no shortage of expensive things I wanted, a quick stop for dessert at Flying Elephant's Deli where I looked for my friend Stephen, and finally to the concert hall.

What the concert lacked in traditional Christmas-type music, it more than made up for in its energy and enthusiasm. The hundred or so vocalists are from quite a number of local churches and provided a performance that would rock anybody's world. They've been doing this with the Oregon Symphony for 11 years now. It was filled with the spice that lacks in many of the circles that I run in -- good old fashioned gospel Christmas music complete with hand-raising, foot-stomping, and worshiping. Praising and hand waving and standing up in appreciation and honor. It was clear that the four of us gays were like fish out of water. Although I did spot a few other typically Portland types -- sort of au natural, funky-hat-wearing, gray-haired, Subaru-driving, recycling sort of folks. I kept saying to myself, "I love this concert but I don't really fit in with the audience." Weird, but true. Everyone looked conservative. And I had to stop counting the number of fake-blonde-bottle-jobs I saw (are their any white women that don't have their hair colored nowadays??). I kept overhearing people around us talking about "praying for this or that," or "what a good job the Lord gave me." And the cross! The giant gold cross that gentle nestled itself between the aging breasts of the mid-50s woman in the top, center row of the chorus -- it kept catching the rays of spotlights just so and beaming itself right into my eye. But I'm just that way. I like things that are out of my element or activities that I'm not typically a part of. Sort of expanding my four walls in that way. It's good for us. To see how the other side lives.

So, it was a blast. A wild, rockin' explosive time of blues combined with gospel backed up with a full symphony and all done in a holiday sort of way.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Multnomah Falls Frozen!

What a day. We've had below-freezing temperatures for many days now. It's been clear, ultra cold, and a bit unusual for us. After my morning turn to Orange County, we headed east out of Portland up I-84 to Multnomah Falls. It's just up a ways past one of my favorite clothing-optional beaches (Rooster Rock), about 20 miles east of us up the Columbia River. The falls are one of the highest in the US. And right now, they're frozen! In fact, there were many such areas along the shear cliffs as we drove along. Amazing views. If you have never been here, it definitely needs to be on your list. And you wouldn't believe how many photographers were out there -- it was at least as busy as a summer day. Enjoy the pictures here.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

To The Man

Today, we mark our 12th Anniversary. (Well, it could be tomorrow, depending on when you're reading this.) Maybe you remember last year's post. Or the 2007 version. Or the one from 2006. December 9, 1997, as we both stood in the dog food aisle of a since-torn-down Safeway in downtown Portland I asked him "If this thing was going to work out between us." And he said YES! Not a church wedding, no pretty gowns showing off our perky breasts, or little mints on the tables. No crepe paper nor roses. And no guest list, nor gifts to bring. None of that. Just a Safeway store. With him. And me. And now Mason.

I've been a tough nut to live with, there's no doubt about that. He's put up with my pickiness and "requirements." Oh boy. I have failed him in more ways that I'd care to admit. I seldom walk the dog. I have a bad attitude sometimes and I get crabby and irritated easily. I've said things to him that I regret -- those words sometimes escape my lips before I have time to stop them. I've behaved poorly. I've had moments of indiscretion and such. I've said "No" when I should have said "Yes" and vice versa. I've rolled my brown eyes and I've sighed heavily. We've had many a sleepless night and early morning. The tiredness has sometimes gotten the best of us. I've cried many times -- and he not so much. I've griped and bitched and moaned from time to time. And I have even used the "F" word in anger....imagine that. I've made him feel uncomfortable and out of place and I've taken advantage of his good-natured spirit.

And still he loves me. And I love him. Dearly in both directions. Our life together has evolved. And our individual lives have changed as well. We are older, more gray, more crinkly -- and the hours of time have marched across our faces. We are a bit less carefree, unfortunately. We've seen death and new life. And we've lived in numerous homes in Anchorage and Portland.

To the man who has shown me how to be a better person, more filled with life and spirit than I could ever have imagined, I say thank you. I love you. And I am more than happy to be living out my limited days on this planet with you. Would you accept my love, today and tomorrow? Would you accept my apologies for the times I've hurt you? Hold my hand, would you, as we continue down this road? I love you. That's all. And that's enough. Happy Anniversary.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Portland City Views

Our last few days have taken us out to all parts of our super cool amazing city. It's been clear, very cold, and windy. A nice way to begin the holiday season.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

If I Were a Carpenter

If I were a Carpenter, and you were a lady....... No, wait a minute.....I only was pretending to be a Carpenter. Karen, that is. In spite of the fact that I was painfully, youthfully, enamored with sexy Richard. Who wouldn't be? Seriously. In that skin-tight white suit. And delicious high thick-soled shoes. And the feathered hair. Umm.

The year was 1974. I had done nothing but wear additional grooves into my copy of The Singles 1969-1973 -- Richard and Karen Carpenter's album....certainly you remember, don't you? The brown covered one with the gold lettering? I still have it. And I have the piano music book too....tattered and worn like a bad girl in a cheap Winnemucca whore house. I got a copy of the record (that's what they used to be called, my dear youngsters....) when it came out. And the song book came shortly thereafter. I was in the height of my glory when I had that music in front of me at the piano. I was quick to discover that I did not have Richard's piano skills, nor Karen's drumming skills. But I thought I could give Karen a pretty good run for her money on the vocals. And so, I tried. Regularly. Say, like, every afternoon after school. No one would be home after school for some reason. My parents had a Magnavox console stereo -- which I had to dust on Saturday mornings while armed with a can of Pledge and my mother's dust rag which was always neatly shaken out and folded and resting just-so on top of the Pledge can. I would high-tail it home, lock the doors, and hit it. I'd turn up that record as loud as I could get the (now) cheap and old fashioned stereo speakers to go. I wouldn't only pretend to be Karen Carpenter....I would actually BE Karen Carpenter. The vocal runs up and down the scales -- she and I would race through the likes of We've Only Just Begun, Rainy Days and Mondays, and (of course) Top of the World. There was just no limit to what I could accomplish when I combined my innate vocal skills with the Magnavox and The Carpenter's album. Oh, and the kitchen spoon too. I had to have a giant kitchen spoon as my microphone. I sang into that bad boy like nobody's business.

So, 1974 rolls around and two girls in my church invited me to go with them to see The Carpenters at the (then) Boise State College Gymnasium. I swear, I was beside myself with giddiness. Until the afternoon of the scheduled concert when they cancelled "because Karen was sick." I could say that I cried. But that wouldn't be appropriate. I bawled. And bawled. I was 12 years old, mind you. In Idaho. By all rights, I should have been helping someone plow the fields, castrate the cattle, or picking potatoes in the field. But, no, I was bawling because The Carpenters cancelled their concert. The good news is that the concert was reschedule a few weeks later and I did go. Ahh. Delight. Karen in a long, flowing pale yellow dress....ankle length, wrist-length sleeves. She glided back and forth while Richard sat at the piano in the aforementioned white Angel's Flight sort of suit. I still remember it fondly. Gayly.

I'd like to tell you that my love affair with The Carpenter's went by the wayside. Alas, it continues its strange little perverse grip on me. I think it's because that was such a formative period of time for me and that I was in such a position of discovery then. We have yanked that piano book out of its storage in the piano bench more than once in our nearly 12 years together. Combine that with a bottle or two of Chardonnay and you've got a perfect recipe for a night of fun and frolic. I remember one such evening with several friends, even, when we sang the entire album. Shh, don't tell anyone, please. They may get the wrong impression of me....as if the impression they already have isn't bad enough. I mean, hey, I just wanted to be a Carpenter.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Facebook Account Disabled

In case you follow me on Facebook, you won't be -- today at least. My account has been disabled for some reason unknown to me. They are looking into it. So, don't think you're going crazy by not seeing me there.

I'm in San Diego tonight and will be in San Francisco tomorrow night. Thanksgiving was good. We spent it with our good friends Alex and Paul plus a few others. We took mashed potatoes (complete with two sticks of melted butter, Gorgonzola and mozzarella cheese, and bread crumbs on top) along with dressing of caramelized onions, water chestnuts, green apple, and celery. It was a nice holiday and it's always good to be with friends. '

My motivation for posting has waned. Unfortunately. I think it's my time of the month.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Object of His Affection

He sat in 3F. First Class, that is. Poised, fairly quiet, giant stylish sunglasses hiding his close to 60-year-old eyes. But it was his wearing a suit with a jacket that struck me. Not so many folks dress up any longer. And a pink dress shirt to boot. Now, the dress shirt was unbuttoned further than normal -- probably just about where I'd, personally, wear mine. Just enough to show off whatever happens to be on my chest at any given moment in time. Some giant gold piece of expensive jewelry hung around his neck.

"I'll have a tomato juice with ice and two vodkas, please" he uttered when I asked him what he'd like to drink. Fine. One drink down, another ordered in a fairly short amount of time. Somehow, we got on the subject of where we were from and where we were going -- typical conversation in my business. I reach my slender hairy forearm across and rest his second drink on the stand next to him. He catches my attention and dives into an animated, theatrical version of "Perhaps you've heard of "Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.....'." Why yes. Yes, I have heard it. He goes on to tell me that he grew up west of Boston in some proximity to where Longfellow lived and wrote. He is dramatic and looks me squarely in the eyes with his wrist held limp and his arms up in the air a bit -- much like he's performing on a stage.

We get to the uncomfortable time where's he's ordering his third double drink within an hour of starting. Now, that's six drinks at a cabin altitude of around 8,000 feet above sea level. That's like going from zero to sixty in a short amount of time and drinking while you're doing it. And we have, like, four hours to go in the flight ahead of us. He tell me that "I'm planning on being well oiled by the time I reach Boston so just keep the drinks coming." Oh boy. So, I take his third double drink to him and tell him that the airplane probably isn't the best place to become well oiled.....that we are not permitted to let anyone get to that point on a flight. He's very kind about it, thankfully. Many times, people aren't nice to me at this point. He nods to me and sort of waves me off -- not in a bad way but, rather, in a "I know" sort of way. A bit later, he's headed to the restroom and says to me, "If you had a son like I do picking you up in Boston, you'd want to be well oiled too." I tell him that I totally understand -- and that family members can many times be the ones that drive one to drink. He laughs. I laugh. It's all good.

He hands me a section of a magazine that he's torn out and written down some information on: Longfellow's Wayside Inn in South Sudbury, Massachusetts. There's a phone number there too. And it also says to ask for him, by name. A very nice gesture, don't you think? I appreciated the interaction by a stranger. He tells me that I need to stop in sometime.

At that point, he sort of fades out into la-la land for a little nap. Six drinks in an hour will do that to you. I notice that he's sort of almost to the end of his third drink and that it's almost to fall out of his hand while he rests with his head back and mouth open. Next thing I know, his linen napkin is covered in tomato juice. He's obviously spilled the last remaining bit of his drink on himself and had to wipe it up in a napkin that now looks like a murder took place. I remove his glass and napkin from his lap while he's resting peacefully.

He wakes a bit later and orders a brandy. I space it out as long as I can before delivering it to him. And, finally, nearing Boston, I hear him say to me "I'd like another brandy," while I've got my back to him and speaking to the folks across the aisle. That's his last drink. Eight in one flight. Clearly in need of drinking his relationship with his son into annihilation. Believe me, my heart went out to the dude. I'm sure he was gay. And clearly enamoured with me. I was flattered, believe me. But I honestly felt sorry for him. Because I'm sure that his son has given him hell in his life. And that his son has probably struggled as well with this man that I've just spent the last five hours with.

I've still got the phone number and address of the place he said to drop his name at. Maybe I will sometime. Maybe he will buy me a drink this time around.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sunset North of Michigan

The sun had just gone down and was casting the most amazing brilliant redish-orangish glow in the sky off the right side of the aircraft. It was 2:20pm on my watch, three hours behind actuality. We were passing over the north of Michigan state, my First Class service was complete, and I sat down to read a single sentence in Armistead Maupin's book Michael Tolliver Lives. It's on page 14 if you're interested and it reads: "Some people think we finally become adults when both our parents have died; for me it happened when someone desired the person I'd become." It got me to thinking a bit introspectively about life, death, relationships, growing up, changing, or not changing.

It was then that the captain called me for a pee-pee break which means that I go into the flight deck while he comes out. It was dark up there as my eyes focused on the many bells and whistles and colored instrument panels that lay before me. I always glance at the big screen that shows where we are and which cities we're passing over and which airports are nearest to us in case we ever need to make an emergency diversion. And I saw the flight path which included a direct hit over Albany, New York. "KALB" is how it looks on the instrument in the airplane -- and don't ask me what the "K" stands for. I have no idea. I pour coffee for a living for god's sake.

Albany is home to many of my dear friends. I was headed to Boston, 160 miles east of Albany, for a one-night layover. I haven't been back to this area of the country since last July when we joined all of our Albany friends (and a million other sexy bear men) at Bear Week in Provincetown. What a super great week we had. But we also had a bit of trouble in P-Town. Potentially friend-threatening trouble. Totally skipping every single detail, because I simply cannot rehash it any more than I already have in my heart and soul, I will simply tell you that I got tears in my eyes as I tried to stare out the window ahead of our 500mph moving airplane last night. I was speaking with another friend recently who told me how much he valued me, both Blair and me. How much he enjoyed being around us and how much we meant to him. And that we would always be considered a valuable part of his life, no matter what. I started to cry during that phone conversation (god, is it my time of the month or what). I feel amazingly poorly about the rift, the crevice, that has been dumped into the middle of this beautiful friendship -- and into my life as a whole. So, we passed over KALB rapidly and discretely overhead. I wonder if my friends just happened to glance overhead and see me? Because I saw them.

And that reminds me, it's only a few days until the most thankful holidays of all....Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saucy Pirate Wenches

Another of the many interesting readings on the reader board at Pirate's Cove along Sandy Boulevard in Northeast Portland. It's in our former neighborhood but we still pass by frequently. Last Christmas? "No Fruitcakes, Please." I wasn't sure if I should go in or not.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Rottenness of My Insides

So, I've had this thing nagging me inside for a while. Years, in fact. And it's just not going away. And yesterday my friend over at Lelo in Nopo posted this. About putting out good in the world in spite of the fact that we have a totally messed up world. I read her post and commented on it: "I agree...I really do. I think about this regularly, all of the time. Honestly. But I have such a difficult time putting it into practice. Sometimes I do. Many times I don't. I find myself thinking terrible things about terrible people. I'm trying. I guess I'll keep on doing so. Because I believe in the good, I really do. Thanks for the reminder."

Diving into yoga a year ago has made my thought processes even more pronounced inside of me. And having certain people and situations in my life around me has simply added to my giant fight. The bottom line is this: There are people that I do not like, nor care for, nor like their actions, nor like their choices, nor nor nor nor. That's it. That's the simple, honest, truth. I could hide it and say that I don't have those feelings. I could lie and say that I'm all about this send-good-into-the-world-sort-of-yoga-ish thing. And I am most of the time. But there are plenty of times when I'm not. I have a long list of things that irritate me and send my ire sky-high. At the end of each yoga class, we finish after savasana by saying "We give honor to the good in ourselves and in all others....Namaste." And nearly every time I say that, with my hands folded at my heart, my eyes closed and in silence, I question it. But maybe that's the point, eh? The questioning. The reminding myself of it. The habitual doing of it, over and over. Maybe that's what I need to continue reminding me of my humanity, my frailness, my weakness. Perhaps it will always be the thorn in my side that tries to keep me humble and attentive to the feelings inside. And now you all know what a rotten person I am inside sometimes. And that's my sermon for today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hav'ta, Got'ta

I just hav'ta. I just got'ta. Post, that is. I've been contemplating, wondering, looking through some old ideas for posts. And nothing was coming to me. But I'm feeling pretty good this morning. It's a cold, clear morning. Mason and I woke up to an empty house -- Daddy, Papa, Lover Boy -- they had all left me. Alone. Without saying anything. I love to watch Mason as he skips (yes, he actually skips) down the sidewalk. Chasing leaves, commanding them to the ground, and sticking his little white fanny up in the air.

Today, our Human Resource/Benefits people from Corporate are in town for a Q&A on next year's giant medical insurance changes. We can stick with the traditional PPO that we have right now or migrate to a high-deductible Health Savings Account. All of the money you put into the HSA is yours. Forever. The point is that you can use the money in the account to pay for your insurance bills. But if you don't have any medical bills, you just keep the money building up in your account. It all sounds great except that the annual deductible on this plan is $1,200 and only $250 on the lower/regular PPO plan. Makes you think a few times before actually going to the doctor.

We've been sleeping like poo poo. Stress, I'm afraid. Nonetheless, things have evened out a bit. I'm afraid I'm at that point in my life wherein I need to practice what I preach. All of the powers of positive thinking that I've always claimed to have now need to be a part of my own life. I'm working on it. Albeit very slowly -- and many times not that you'd be able to tell unfortunately.

I'm loving the new MacBook Pro. But transferring my iTunes from my old PC to the new Mac is a real bitch. I followed very length, confusing instructions yesterday. And everything worked out just fine until I actually went to play the music. Nada. Nope. No how. The songs all show up in my iTunes. But they won't play because "the original file cannot be found." Now I'm more lost than ever.

What else can I tell you? I could go on and on about what we've been doing: We saw The Beggar's Opera and Company -- both of which were very very cool. We've been spending tons of time with our new BFF's Mark and Shawn. Our buddy D. is staying with us this coming weekend while he does monthly military guard duty. We're going to Alex and Paul's house for Thanksgiving with my MIL. Our December is starting to fill up with holiday plans -- and we've already decided that we are not going to get inundated with decorating and all of that -- it chills me to the bone to not be able to actually enjoy the holidays. My honey is contemplating a cruise next year with our good friend Alan. We're trying to decide if we will be participating in Provincetown Bear Week 2010 next summer or not. My hair is growing out a bit -- on its way to a whole new doo. I'm liking it most days.

Alright now, so I'm delving into the depths coming up with things to tell you. So, I'll close for now. Stay in touch. I need you!

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Celebrity Extravaganza

Whew. I'm exhausted. This old goat has finished a whirlwind 24 hours in celebrity heaven. Totally unexpected. Quite pleased to have met the company of the following folks:

Melanie Griffith -- She and I chatted about her super cool knee-length boots and her tattoo. I told her and her daughter Stella to behave on their weekend in Portland. They promised they would. I just kept thinking that "this woman sleeps with Antonio." Everything was all better then.

Stella Banderas (child of Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas)

Neil Sedaka (plus his very handsome Russian traveling companion) -- playing near Vancouver BC tonight. Tells me he does about 60 concerts a year -- "They pay, I go," he tells me as his hand gently rested on my fuzzy forearm. I think he liked it as much as I did. I caught up with him again in baggage claim standing by himself and told him to "Be careful hanging out on street corners all by yourself....people may get the wrong impression." He laughed.

Stone Temple Pilots -- They are beginning a 3-week west to east Canadian tour tonight.

** Dean DeLeo (lead guitar, total rocker dude).
** Robert DeLeo (vocals and bass guitar) -- really handsome man, beautiful smile, and I didn't complain at all about the little hand on my shoulder just before he went back to his seat. Umm. Did I mention the smattering of chest fuzz above his shirt line.
** Eric Kretz (drummer) -- another rocker dude who was more than happy to chat us up.

I really needed this star-studded extravaganza. They were all so friendly, very polite, and quite personable and easy to talk with. Sort of the little fresh breath of air that I needed right now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Are These The Eyes ??

What I fail to mention in this positive, uplifting and energizing video is the fact that I've had a pain in the chest for about four days now. I don't really think it's related to heart issues -- no other symptoms that would indicate that I need medical help. I think that maybe I pulled a muscle or twisted wrong or something. Either that or my heart just plain old hurts.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Boo Hoo -- It's Hallowed Weenie !!

Today marks Halloween. The last day of October. It was one year ago today that I marched myself with glamour and glitz down to the 24 Hour Fitness near our home. A nice gym, busier than you know what, and signed up for our monthly corporate fitness rate. I was an animal all winter long. Yoga numerous times a week along with the free weights, treadmill, and floor/core who-hah. Then the nicer weather of late spring and summer arrived and my staring-at-the-handsome-men-in-the-gym-time went to nearly zero. I've been giving a ton of thought to the ins and outs of motivation. What motivates each of us in different ways. The internal versus external motivational factors. What makes one person totally get into going to the gym and what makes others never step a foot into a gym in their entire lives. I have no conclusion here. I enjoyed my time there. A lot. But where is the motivation? What happens inside me that short-circuits my actually getting there. I suppose it's precisely the same as my advice to alcoholics: "Put down the bottle." It's that simple, really. "Get thee in the Camry and drive the 1.3 miles to the gym," is what will solve my not going...right? But, wait, there's a big giant "I'd rather stay home" Monster between me and the gym...........

Two weeks ago we saw Company. A Sondheim musical. Honestly, we've been together 12 years and have seen very little live theater. And that's weird because we both love it. We've never even made time to see the Oregon Symphony which is something we'd love to do. Company starred our longtime friend Andrew. He was amazing. Perfect. And I was able to add Company to my list of things I've done in my life.

Since we live in a condo building where the trick-or-treater component is absolute zero, we decided to go and see Portland's version of The Beggar's Opera tonight. Another good friend Stephen is the director of it. I know next to nothing about opera. I've seen exactly, precisely, one opera in my life -- Mozart's The Magic Flute in Prague....in the very theater that The Magic Flute was performed at in the late 1700s. And the very theater that Mozart himself directed it in. A very very exciting night, to say the least. And, so, tonight.....Portland's Beggar's Opera.

MIL continues to be fine, not great, but at least functioning alone semi-well. You see, in spite of whatever physical issues she has going, her emotional instability plays into the physical easily, quickly, smoothly. She has been prescribed both antianxiety and antidepression medications. But she doesn't take them....well, "unless I need them." She allows her emotions, high-highs and low-lows to take over her body and drag her physical self right down the tubes. She cries wolf. She doesn't ask for what she needs but, instead, makes up little stories and plays games so that everything is a watered-down, clear-as-mud mess when it comes to figuring out exactly what she is saying and needing. The connection between one's emotion/head games and physical ailments is closely knit. A minimal physical ailment can be turned into a full-blown hospital stay within hours......And it's hard to for this type-A guy to play into that crap.

Lover Boy just ordered me The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen after I saw him on the Oprah show. "Delicious meatless recipes that will change the way you eat," is his claim to fame on the front of the book. I glanced through it last night and fell in love. Although I do have to say (and this would be as good of time to do so as any), that as a nearly-vegetarian guy, I am not overly in love with a couple of the foods that typically find themselves into vegetarian recipes: Tofu and Mushrooms. I mean, they're okay....but they are not my favorites. And it seems that they are in a high percentage of veggie recipes. So, I'm going to dive in to the book and see what happens (well, not actually dive into the book....but you know what I mean.....don't you????).

Also, as a side note, it will be four years ago tomorrow (November 1) that we embarked on one of our favorite vacations with our good friends. We flew from Portland-Chicago-Krakow, Poland. We visited Auschwitz and fell in love with this perfectly old and beautiful Eastern European city. We took the train from Krakow to Prague where we saw the The Magic Flute (mentioned above) along with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. We left Prague on the train for Dresden, Germany, and had a ball in this city that was nearly totally destroyed in one single bombing raid during WW2. So, in spite of the fact that it looks old today, it actually isn't -- it's been rebuilt to visually look old. Weird.

This crap's gone on long enough for today folks. I've got a bad Halloween attitude to deal with......gotta run (and, please Mary!, could there be any more links in this post.....for god's sake, give it up with the links............)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pride, Arrogance and High Powered Attitudes

Woops....that's about the only way I can describe this picture. You can't see it overly well...but you can see that the route went to the right (east) of MSP before it made a few turns and headed back. It's the flight plan for Northwest/Delta flight 188 last Wednesday, October 21, when it was supposed to have landed at Minneapolis but, instead, decided to burn up a little more fuel before it made its way back to MSP. The pilots were, apparently, in a heated discussion about their company's pilot scheduling component. And, having heard such discussions many times in my 15 years in the airline business, I can only imagine that it was, as they said, "heated." Airline employees in general, and especially pilots and flight attendants, are quite passionate about their jobs, their schedules, their seniority, and what they believe they "should have" and what they "shouldn't have." It's nearly always a constant battle between union and company -- employee and management.
I love my job, don't get me wrong. And I've got a long list of very valuable friends in every single position in the industry from management to front-line customer service personnel. They are people typically given to good times, laughter, and enjoy their jobs. But not always. The recent turbulent history of the airline industry has lent itself to a growing dissatisfaction of pilots and other with their jobs. They don't like their salaries, their management, their hours, their meals, their hotels, their schedules.....oh yes, their schedules! And that's where this particular story takes us. Apparently they were discussing their schedules. Remember that Delta and Northwest Airlines have merged. Northwest, as we've always known it, will go away. It will become Delta. And these were two Northwest pilots -- they are going to be merged into the Delta airlines pilot seniority list somehow -- no guarantees, they may actually lose seniority, may have to start over at a place that they aren't today....it may not be pretty. The first part of next year, there will actually be combination crews of former Northwest and former Delta pilots and flight attendants on board. And their schedules may definitely be affected. Remember, these are folks who have typically devoted a giant chunk of their time to having been educated and trained to be in charge of a multi-million dollar airliner with the lives of passengers at stake every day. It's tough -- very much so.
You must understand that the pilot in command (PIC) has complete authority of any given flight. If he doesn't feel right about any particular portion of the fight (unruly passengers, freight, weight and balance, safety issues, fuel, cabin customer service components such as lights, etc.), he has the total authority to say "No, I'm not going." He or she can, single handedly, do essentially what they want. They may have to answer for it but rarely so; but in this industry, anything blamed on "safety" will rarely be questioned. And, anything can be blamed on safety, believe me. Anything. Pilots have no direct report....no direct supervision or person to whom they report. Pilots, and flight attendants for that matter, can get a little crazy sometimes with the freedom that they have. They can come across as police enforcers. They can make decisions, or statements, that will not always be questioned. They have giant latitude in making decisions on their own. And that freedom of authority can, occasionally, get out of hand. And, believe me, I'm not pointing fingers -- I've been there and done that myself, sadly.
I've seen some of the best pilots in the world. And I've seen some of the worst. I've questioned pilots when I genuinely believe that I've needed to. But when that happens, I'd better be prepared with a damned good excuse for asking. In fact, I recently questioned a pilot about why in the world he failed to notify the flight attendants about an inflight mechanical failure of a nonessential component that resulted in an eight-hour delay for us. He wasn't happy and we got into a bit of a tiff about it. The delay isn't the issue. The failure to communicate is. His response? He claims that I was acting unprofessionally by questioning his authority and judgment. And he claims that since it was nothing that concerned me, that he chose not to say anything. I call those sorts of judgments errors. Big errors. It's the sort of thinking that got Northwest/Delta 188 in trouble. Thinking they know it all. In fact, just this morning, I overheard three pilots chatting about this little issue on the employee bus as we made our way from the employee parking lot to the airport terminal. Guess what? They justified the pilot's actions! If there hadn't been three of them on the bus this morning, I'd have spoken up -- I'm not known for being a wallflower or overly demure.
There are pilots that are pleasant, friendly and always speak to me. And there are those who will never say a word. (And, to be fair, there are flight attendants who do the same.) It's much like a doctor -- they are GOD. They hate to be questioned or asked to explain their decisions. They have the ability to make your flight, your day, your life, as easy as pie. Or like total hell. It's like any other job in the world.....we get so used to doing what we do that we lose touch with the harsh reality that today is a new day, new faces, new opportunities -- and that we still have to be diligent to pay attention, double check all that we need to, and make it the safest flight possible. Pride, arrogance, and high powered attitudes don't count. Especially in this industry, that remains essential. This isn't a "bash the pilot" post. It is, however, a reminder to all of us to remain engaged and active in our jobs, our lives, our families and responsibilities.
So, when I hear about pilots who accidentally go 150 miles beyond where they are supposed to because they were having a heated discussion about their management and their scheduling, I am concerned. I don't care what they were doing in the flight deck. It matters not whether they were eating, sleeping, on their laptops, giving head to each other, or reading a newspaper. I don't care if they like their jobs, were happy, or hated their management. What does matter, unequivocally so, is that they failed at being the pilots in command of a flight. They failed at receiving and responding to radio and text calls. They were not coherent or in control. A coherent person would have not only heard the radio call, but actually responded to it as required. They failed at being in charge of their flight. And it took a flight attendant's interphone call to remedy that. And for that, my friends, they should be fired.

Friday, October 23, 2009

(De)Fragmented Friday Fineries

Momma in law is home as of yesterday afternoon. We had her entire apartment cleaned as best we could and rearranged so she could move easily with her walker without tripping. Her refrigerator and freezer are stocked so full you wouldn't believe it. She seems to be in good spirits now that she's out of the place she hated so much. I have one thing to say: If I ever end up in a hospital or rehabilitation center, I hope that I treat other people pleasantly and appreciate others for what they do for me without griping, complaining, and flying off the handle at them. Enough said.

I miss my hubby this morning. For the second time in the recent weeks, he's found his way out of bed in the middle of the night because of an inability to sleep. It's been very stressful being the sole caregivers for the aforementioned MIL -- No other family members here to run errands and take her to appointments and no family helping reimburse us for the mounting costs of helping her maintain her life. We've had little time together, no gym time, and a busy work schedule. And we've had very little Mason and home time. So, neither of us have been sleeping well. We've been trying to find time for a trip to the Oregon Coast -- it's only 1 1/2 hours away and we haven't been there in more than two years. But, there's no time. And I need a trip to Boise to see my mom and sis.....and there's no time for that either. So, all of that to say that we need to get better sleep and regain some sense of normality.

Did you know that most (all?) schools nowadays have a zero-tolerance drug policy -- and I mean no aspirin, Tylenol, no nothing. So, one of my family members in 8th grade found that out the hard way. She found some sort of pill underneath a school desk and split it with a classmate. (I know, I know....very very silly.) She's a bright, educated, smart, intelligent and beautiful young lady and it surprised me more than you can imagine. So, another classmate watched them do this, turned them in to the school officials, and they were both suspended immediately for a minimum of five days while the school Board sorted out the issue. That's how it works. No questions, no nothing .... you get expelled .... no matter the drug, the story behind it, nothing. She went to the ER and had a drug test which showed no narcotics in her system. Then she is required to go before the School Board and plead her case, just like in court. The fine for actually being the "distributor" of the drug? The remainder of the semester off....until January! Fortunately for her, the School Board believed her story and allowed her to return to school with a requirement to attend some sort of drug classes. So, be warned, zero tolerance means exactly that.

My increasingly slow Sony Vaio laptop is bugging the hell out of me. I do all of my regular scans for viruses, run the defragmenter, clear the cookies, and all of that.....but it's not all that much better. I mean, I click on something and it's like I don't even know if it's registered the click or not...I wait, and wait. Dial-up speed (remember the OLD days??). Nothing appears to be wrong, and I can't find a definitive answer. So, I'm not sure what to do. It's just one more thing to add to my list of life's annoyances right now. So, after we climb into bed last night, hubby appears to be asleep when I see his eyes closed but his mouth say, "Aaaapppplllleeee." And then, "Maaccc Booooookkkkkkk." And then pretends to be snoring. I rolled him over and pry his eyes open to look at me. He said, "Just make sure they save one more for me because I want one too." I guess we both have a hankering for a Macbook. He tells me that he won't be surprised to see one on my desk when he returns from Seattle today.

And one more little teeny tiny thing: The Northwest Airline's pilots that accidently overflew their destination a few days back? You know, the ones that went 1:20 without radio contact? The ones that said they were having a heated discussion about company policy in the flight deck and were distracted? Fire 'em. Now.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Brutal Harshness of My Frail Humanity

I'm not quite sure where this is going. But I do know it's going to be honest. You've been warned. If you're the type of person who can't deal with straightforwardness, I'd suggest grabbing the Sunday comic section from last weekend's paper. I've had it. And not just today. It seems to be happening on a day-to-day basis. I keep on saying to myself and my partner, "I've had it." I'm edgy, irritated, upset, and angry and the slightest, oh say, driver who doesn't signal or people who stop at the bottom of escalators in spite of the fact there are a hundred more folks coming right behind them. Even taking the dog for a walk is getting on my nerves. Those are the sorts of things that are like pouring gasoline on a small fire.

As you well know, my MIL has been in the hospital and now in a rehabilitation center for two weeks. She's a horrible patient with even worse patience. It's always like dealing with a child in an adult's clothing. Yeah, okay, so I can sort through that on my better days -- I've known her long enough. But what I can't deal with is the effect that her actions, words, and thought processes continue to have on me, us, both of us. She has officially set "Wednesday as the day I'm going home." Oh, really? No doctors have been consulted, no social workers have advised, no home care has been arranged, and she can't even walk more than around 20 feet at a time. At home she's got an aging dog with breathing difficulties, has to cook and clean for herself, and her apartment is filled with so much furniture that you wouldn't believe it -- all things that we've tried to get rid of for years in an effort to simplify but are all things that she just has to have. She lives in a senior apartment without assistance or care. By herself. I told her yesterday that her going home has a giant mental heaviness that sits on my head because we are the only two responsible for her -- that I'm concerned for her being by herself and that it's us that have to deal with her continued issues. It's like talking to a doorknob. She doesn't care. "I can do it -- I just have to get out of here," she says with that wild-eyed, throw-caution-to-the-wind sort of look in her eyes. Um, yeah....okay, we'll see how that goes. And all of this from a woman who, in a fit of rage and anger, told me several years ago to "Get the hell out of my house and don't ever darken my doorway again." Makes it really tough to even want to help out. And it's not like I don't think she doesn't appreciate our caring....it's simply that I don't think it just doesn't make any real difference many times. It's never quite good enough. (Note to self: Remember this paragraph when we get a phone call in the middle of the night......)

I'm the sole driver in our family -- neither she nor my partner drive. And her other two sons don't live here and have minimal involvement on any sort of productive, essential level in her day-to-day care. Remember, you never know exactly who is going to be wiping your ass at any given point in your life. And if you're looking for a "thank you" from those that you should be receiving a "thank you" from, good luck with that. Caregiving is a real bitch sometimes. And I've honestly really had to sort through that in my mind for years now. And at times like this, I don't do a very good job at it and realize the brutal harshness that is my frail humanity. The pressure's on and there a lot of extra things that have to be done right now. I am solely responsible for anything that requires driving -- her trips to the grocery store, to get her prescriptions, to take her to doctor's visits, to get dog food when she runs out, and and and and........ and, again, I've reached my limit. I don't have the luxury of saying, "No." Occasionally I do. But I feel badly for knowing that I've denied an elderly person their sense of well being and that I'm not being nice. But I just have to draw the lines sometimes. I just cannot do it all.

Whiner? Perhaps. I'm not above confessing and sorting through my shortcomings. Just serve me a nice Brie with the whine, would you please? And a glass of chilled pinot gris would be lovely as well. I do it rarely but I'm afraid that I'm about to be doing it more and more often. These are issues that started long ago and battles that I've waged in my own head and soul for many years. And the feelings have not been resolved. And it's these pressure cooker sort of times that bring out either the best or the worst in folks, you know. I'm an organized, straightforward, logical, common sense thinker sort of guy. I get things done. A mover-and-shaker sort of dweeb. I do not do well at playing games, living with drama and the same old tired stories that I've heard for years. And that doesn't play out well in the land of Oz -- where fantasy, dreams, wishes, and hopes rarely come true.

I wish I were more like my own Mother sometimes. She's quite the woman -- always putting herself second and others first. I consider her and my long-passed grandmother frequently. They both had that innate quality of beauty, consideration for others always, and the gift of providing for others at all costs without complaint or the bad attitudes that pervade me today. I wonder if I can buy, purchase or even steal a better attitude? Either that or somebody's going to strangle somebody.....I swear it. I'm looking for duct tape, bed sheets, and razor blades as we speak.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Whose Going to Wipe Your Ass ?

Seriously. Whose going to wipe it? When you can't. When you are too old to do it, or your hands can't get down there the way they are supposed to. Have you thought about it? Probably not. But if you're demented like I am and try to do now what you're supposed to be so that your future years have as few problems as necessary, maybe you have considered it.

My mother in law has been in the hospital and now a rehabilitation center for nearly two weeks now. She lives alone since my father in law passed away more than a year ago. It's not the first time I've given this ass-wiping ceremony some thought. I've had more than my share of illnesses in my family. But who in your life right now, today!, will be by your side to clean up after you, cook for you, buy your groceries for you, take you to your doctor's appointments when you can't drive, pay your bills for you when you are living on straight Social Security and can't afford them, and yes, wipe up your bottom properly? Will it be your children? If you have none like me, then you can shoot that idea right out the window (maybe I should adopt a handsome young 18-year-old for these purposes??). Maybe a neighbor will help out. Or a friend. Or someone in your church, club, or little group. Or, perhaps, a combination of all of the above. I do know that you can't truly depend on anyone in particular -- children move away and have nothing to do with their parent's day-to-day care any longer except for an occasional obligatory phone call ..... husbands and wives and partners die or move or divorce ..... friends and family come and go. I'm not sure that anyone can truly be counted on for those end-of-life years that really look better on paper than in real life.

So, go ahead, push that call button that's been clipped onto your sheets -- push it and just wait....wait and see how long it takes for someone to show up to help you get onto the toilet. Or who shows up. I wonder who it will be. Let's see now, where is that call button........

Friday, October 16, 2009

Um Hum.....

Um hum.....this is my kind of morning. I love weather, all kinds of weather, sunrises, sunsets, snow and rain, gray and blue. This is what we had to endure this morning.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vacation? Holiday?

Or shall we call it a holiday? Either way, it's been interesting. And I've got a bad attitude. So, go ahead, point fingers at me and call me bad names. I'll still have one.

Sean and Jeffrey didn't come to Portland at the very last minute....something about a little bowel obstruction, tubes down his throat, a lengthy hospital stay, and possible impending surgery. But, nonetheless, we have hospitals here.....(kidding, so don't start the hate mail). Needless to say, I was very disappointed.

My Mother in law fell and injured her leg. She's just finished six days in the hospital and is now in a rehabilitation facility. She's cranky and a very bad patient with a bad attitude. And she's gone way down hill. I'm hoping for a speedy recovery but, I have to say, when you take an 80 year old and stick 'em in bed, it's not a good idea. Our days have been filled with talk of Living Wills and Powers of Attorneys. Fingers crossed.

I've been sick and have felt like doing absolutely nothing -- but, instead, I've been doing everything...... Congested, head cold, bit of a sore throat. That always makes things better, doesn't it?

We had a giant party here on Sunday evening (to remember Sean and Jeffrey who were not able to join us, celebrate National Coming Out Day and the Equality March, and Christopher Columbus too). Lots of good friends, drinks, and food.....but it probably wasn't the best time for a party.....in spite of what you'll see in this picture.

Holiday? Vacation? Not so much.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Holy Hump Day !

I can't quite find the time to formulate any beautiful, white-picket-fence-laden thoughts, I'm afraid. In between bouts of having to work (it's a money thing), we're getting ready for the arrival of our good buddies Sean and Jeffrey tomorrow. You'll recall this post outlining the festivities! I can't believe that they are almost here......yippee! There are toilets to scrub (well, just one, actually), doggies to bathe (well, just one, actually), and floors to clean. Oh, I guess I'll wash their sheets as well, just out of my good-natured heart. And, by the way, if you're in the Portland area and would like to stop in this coming Sunday afternoon, October 11, at 4pm, you're more than welcome to -- we're having a little get together to introduce all of our Portland friends to Sean and Jeffrey -- email me for details if you'd like.

In addition, my MIL took a fall when her legs became tangled in a dog's leash yesterday. Not good when you're more than 80 and already have a hard time walking. So, 911-ambulance-ER = No broken bones. ....whew. But, I do have to admit, that sitting in the ER waiting room for numerous hours provided me with enough fodder for six year's worth of blog posts. Let me put it this way: Wal Mart has NOTHING over the ER that I sat in last night. Nothing. There was a young lady cornered by two hospital security guards and asked about her reason for being in the hospital, who she was, what she was doing, etc. They told her they'd be right back with her. And what did she do? Made a bee-line for me....ME! She came right over and sat next to me in her winter coat with the hood pulled up and her little cutsie pajama bottoms and slippers. I should have offered her a cocktail.

So, today is going to be spent sorting out MIL's condition, whether she can go home and function alone or not. And to top it off, she has a really bad attitude about hospitals and doctors. She is agitated, upset, irritated, and angry. It's not pleasant. I can hardly wait.

The weather has been more than perfect. Cold nights, fantastic fall days. I love it. In fact, I love weather....all kinds. So, that's a good thing.

Oh, by the way, do you all have your orders placed with Amazon for Going Rogue, Sarah Palin's latest and, perhaps, greatest? Hehehehe. Smooches.

Friday, October 02, 2009

One Year Ago Today -----

One year ago this morning....5:30am Pacific time....my father in law passed away. As we all here frequently about many things, I can't believe it's been a year. Seriously, it feel like it's been maybe six months or something....but a year? Nah, it just couldn't have been. And today, I'm in Chicago, and tomorrow I go to Anchorage -- I'm away from home and feeling like I really should be at home to stick close by my amazing man and his mom on this day. I remember writing about him a year ago. I must say, my dear husband and his mom have both been real troopers this year. They've picked themselves up, dusted themselves off, and carried on just the way he would have wanted. So, to my lover, I commend you -- for the choices you've made, the advances you've taken, and for the times you've not felt like doing the right thing but have anyway. I hate being away from him today. So, today, we remember.......and we learn, and we carry on -- hopefully better people than we were yesterday.

A week from today, Sean and Jeffrey will grace us with their presence in our villa. Small villa, but villa nonetheless. Sean has done a superb job of spelling things out for us all. Honestly, I haven't been this excited for a while about much -- I love enjoying brand new experience with people. It's friends like these that make the world a better place. We can hardly wait boys! And, by the way, if you're in Portland, you are more than welcome to join us at our condominium on Sunday, October 11, at 4pm for a get-together....bring a snack and share it with some of the world's greatest people.

I finished a 24-hour layover in Los Angeles yesterday and had the chance to meet two more amazing bloggers that I'd only known online until yesterday. Jim from Jim's Notes picked me up at my hotel and took me to Hermosa Beach where we sat up on the second floor over looking the Pacific Ocean on a beautiful sunny day. Jim and I snarked ourselves up and down the streets trying to find the main drag to take us where we wanted to go. We practiced the latest in cuss words, made fun of people, cruised handsome California beach boys (well, I did....he was wondering why my head kept snapping in every direction), and walked out to the end of the Hermosa Beach Pier and watched the fisherman. What a day. And then, I coerced Wil from WAT Central into coming ALL of the way in traffic at dinner time to my hotel after his long day at work. We enjoyed snacks and a yummy Amaretto Sour in the hotel's restaurant. We bantered about life, relationships, fake people and why they have such a hard time existing in relationships, his family history and his job. He's a honest guy and, like me, will always tell you the truth in a matter-of-fact sort of way. Many, many thanks to both of my newfound in-person friends for making time for me. I really appreciated our time together.

And to continue the "meeting new people whirlwind," I had the chance to meet, laugh and giggle with Derek of The Thoughts of a Princessa of Mexico. We live in the same city, we Facebook together daily, and yet we'd never met in person....but that's all changed now. Derek is fun-loving, happy, pleasant, and positive to be around -- he leaves you feeling good about life. Derek, you're a doll and the pleasure was all mine.

And now, for more exciting fashion news, my hair is longer than it's been for a very long time. I'm not quite sure why or how long it's going to get or exactly what the style is supposed to actually be or look like....but I've decided that I'd like to have it a little longer, a little shaggy sort of look maybe. So, we'll see. It's sort of like starting out on a cross-country road trip without a road map. But, hey, that's all a part of the goodness of life...right?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Two Weeks' Notice

In just under two weeks, we are going to play host to a couple of the world's greatest friends. And we couldn't be happier. These boys have hosted me/us several times and have gone out of their way to make our stays with them picture perfect. They've even washed the sheets on my visits. They have allowed us to invade their home, allowed us to be a part of New Year's 2009, lay naked in front of their fire, swim in their pool, drink Cosmos with them, ride in the car to/from Provincetown for Bear Week, picked us up and delivered us to the Albany airport at the most ungodly hours, and have always done it with a smile. We're more than happy to be able to reciprocate. In fact, I don't know if you'd call this irony or what, but they will arrive here on October 8....exactly, precisely, one year to the date since I arrived for the very first time on their doorstep and said hi to people that I'd only known on the internet up to that point....I think that's weird, quite frankly. Eerie. Meant to be? I think so.

Sean and Jeffrey have developed into the kind of friends that I expect to be around for a while. It's one of those internet relationships gone high on crack. Happy times, good times. And they've introduced us to a whole world of good people who have turned into some of our favorite people. And our week with them this past July at Bear Week in Provincetown was nothing short of a super cool freakishly fantastic time.

We've got such a long list of things for them to see here in Portland that we're not exactly sure where to start. It's also pretty cool because neither of them have ever been to the West Coast.....and it'll be the very first time ever for one of them on an airplane ride! We've got restaurants galore to eat at, gay bars to peruse, and the Columbia River National Scenic Area to check out. We're also going to host a party at our condo for a bunch of our friends so that we can introduce them to our measly little groupies. And, of course, Mason is nothing but on pins and needles with anticipation -- worried sick that he won't compare to the cuteness of Sean and Jeffrey's little Clyde E. Breen. I have a feeling it'll be love at first bite. Oh, and there's just one other little piece of excitement -- if you've followed Sean's blog or Jeffrey's blog for any length of time, you'll know that he/they/WE! spends an exorbitant amount of time at the nearest Target store.....you know, the one with big red balls in front of it.....well, there's great news......we've got a brand new giant Target super store with groceries and all opening very near us exactly on the weekend they are here! We'll definitely have to take in the festivities...and maybe even get a bag of popcorn or a slushy or something.
So, that's it. I could go on and on...and I'm sure we all will while we're jammed into the 850 square feet that we call home. Look out boys, you're in for the ride of your life!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Madness That Is Mondays

First and foremost, here are the boys showin' off their panties -- shameful little things that they are. It is Monday, you know.....

Secondly, I'm off to Seattle this afternoon to rendezvous with my Hubby for our annual Recurrent Training. He's done a nice job of telling what we're required to do in his post. I'll be glad when it's over and the pressure is off. We've done this for many, many years so you'd think it gets easier. It does in some ways. In other ways, it's always a nerve-wracking to be yelling and shouting airplane evacuation drill commands.

We had the chance to meet Mark and His Hubby from Tales of The Sissy. What a nice couple....we really enjoyed their casual and relaxed company. They loved Portland -- so, who knows...we may have them as permanent residents at some point in the future.

Our summertime has not come to an end yet....we're going to be basking in the 90s again over the next few days -- it's such a lovely city and the blue sky always shows it off so nicely.

We've got out-of-town visitors coming in October for nearly a week -- that story will be forthcoming very soon! Suffice it to say, that we're excited for the visit and the opportunity to say Hi to these friends again. I know, I know....you're on pins and needles with anticipation......

Hope you all enjoy your week, wherever you are and whatever you're doing.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just a Casual Acquaintance

I'm feelin' kinda funny inside (no, not the "one who can easily hide," either). I've been Defriended. Horrors! Now this isn't by someone that I don't know, or someone that I've had a disagreement with, or someone that I've never met.....nope, it's by someone that I've known for a number of years who simply decided that I am a "casual acquaintance" and that his Facebook page is for "friends and family." It's the funniest thing because I always considered us friends. We've bantered back and forth on FB for a long time. We know many, many mutual friends. We get along well, I think. We are both sort of smart asses. Now, I totally understand that each person in this big wide technology world has to make decisions about who they will email back and forth with, who they will be friends with on Facebook, and all of that. And I know that our needs and wants change over time. It's happened to me as well, I must confess. And I know full well that each of us has to give permission to one another to make our own personal decisions and that we must live with those decisions. Truly, the Defriending part isn't the entire point of my thoughts.....the irony is that it came on the heels of my post the very day before on What Draws Us Together and also reminds me of my writing early last year on What Do You Call Me? My intent here is much a much wider thought than the simple defriending.

My work schedule plays a pretty big part on what I get to do in life and what I don't. I typically get up at 4am and am in bed by 9pm.....in addition to being out of town much of my life. Those work hours don't play well with typical Monday-Friday sort of schedules and it has kept me from being able to participate in many activities throughout the years.

I am not the type of person that will chat you up every single day of my life. I won't call you on a daily basis nor feel obligated to email you, check in on you, or "make sure you're okay"...unless there's a need to. If you need honest help, I'm the first guy to be there to assist -- I will run to the grocery store for you, walk your dog for you, drive you to the doctor, cook a hot meal for you, and even do your laundry and, yes, clean your bathroom for you. I'm all of that, and more! But I'm not the pat-you-on-the-back sort of guy nor do I frequently exhibit the warm and fuzzy feelings that some require. I am the sort of guy that enjoys a beer or coffee with you, digs getting to look at gardens and trees and flowers and the sky, loves learning about new places and things, is more than happy to sit and stare at the earth and all that she offers. I have ended friendships over the other party "needing" for me to check in with them every day -- over others "requiring" me to spend my free time with them. I am the kind of guy who will not typically over analyze our relationship -- I will consider it good and fine and okay unless there's a good solid reason why it isn't. I won't lay awake nights wondering if you like me or that I do, or don't, like you. I'm the kind of guy who can go without seeing someone for six months, or even a year, and pick right back up where we left over -- without guilt, without wishing that we hadn't waited so long, without feeling badly. I love it for what it is, not what it is not.

So, I have been thinking about the long list of 123 friends that I have on Facebook not to mention the others on Twitter or who read my website or that I know in person or that I work with or that I meet via a mutual friend (can I actually use the word "friend"??...maybe its just an acquaintance.....) or that I say hi to in the coffee shop downstairs or or or or. And then I consider the many times while I've got Mason outside in public when I say to him, "Look, Mason, there's another nice lady....she's our friend"....trying to show him that she is not our enemy and that he is supposed to be nice to her. Maybe I should stop lying to him and tell him that "There's a lady we've never met -- don't trust her because we don't know who she is or what she is going to do to us." I counted them this morning......I have actually met 77 of my Facebook friends on at least one occasion. I certainly don't count all 123 as "friends and family"....most of you are, indeed, "casual acquaintances" that I enjoy and don't mind using the word "friend" at all. Some of you I see much more regularly than others. Others of you I have only met once -- and the reality of that is that may very well be the only time we will ever have the good chance to actually meet in person. I honor that time. I don't count it badly that it won't happen again. Others of you, hehehehe, may wish that you'd NEVER met me....... ahh, it's all good times, isn't it.....

I've discovered this whole Facebook and Twitter and texting world to be quite shallow. There is rarely depth amidst the posting and Twitting. It does not take the place of conversation, or phone calls, or one-on-one dinner or chatting. If we're looking for any sort of depth, it won't often be found online. So, I take it for what it is.....good, acceptable, enjoyable ..... the posts, the quick updates, the "here's what I'm having for dinner." It allows me to keep in some sort of contact with a huge number of adorable people that I would never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. So whether I call you friend, family, casual acquaintance or something else....it is what it is and I appreciate it for that.

I guess what I'm wondering is now that I'm not this friend's friend on Facebook, what am I? Oh, that's right, it's a casual acquaintance. It's an interesting world we live in, folks. Laden with technology, I've been relinquished to a casual acquaintance in spite of knowing the guy for years. I'm going to have to think about that for a bit, I'm afraid.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What Draws Us Together

I had a chance to catch the article Is Happiness Catching from the New York Times Magazine over the weekend. It definitely prompts one's mind to think about who is in your close circle of friends and what effect they have on you and what affect you have on them.

The article leans toward the fact that positive people have a bit more influence on negative people than the other way around. It also points out that there is always a common denominator in any group -- something that has drawn them together -- and that it is difficult to sustain outside of that common denominator for any length of time. Say, for example, that there is a group of friends who have known one another for quite some time because they walk at the mall every single day of their lives. Within this group, it would be difficult to be a part of it and not enjoy walking and good health. Your time within that group would be limited. It goes on to say that smokers have a tough time hanging with non-smokers over the long term. And that overweight people typically don't tend to migrate toward a group of gym rats and folks to try to take care of themselves -- and that happy people don't hang with negative for very long.

It's interesting food for thought on what ties us to our friends. We certainly have differences but there has to have been some common ground to bring us together and then keep us together. Differences? Commonality? What is it that has brought you to reside within the group of people you spend the majority of your lives with? Are you the influence on them or are they the ones influencing you? Interesting.