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Thursday, December 30, 2010


Finale. Why is it that saying goodbye sometimes feels so good? I'm not a wisher-awayer of time. I believe in taking advantage of every single moment of our lives in a positive sort of way. But sometimes it feels like a cleansing to put things behind us. Like toxic people. Horrible situations. Family troubles. Even entire years sometimes. Which we'll all do in just a few hours. This will be my last post of 2010. It's been a wild ride for all of us, just like they all are. Ups and downs. Screaming, yelling, and bad attitudes combined right alongside smiles, pats on the back, and the power of positive thinking. Funny how they all work together to present us with the thing we call our lives.

January 1, 2011, will produce a Re-Commitment to My Own Life here. I don't see it as a resolution or one of those flash-in-the-pan sort of things. I'm not that kind of guy. I do see it as a reminder. To myself.....that there are things I need to continue to hone in my focus on. To keep on keeping on. To remind myself of my humanity, my weakness, and my goodness. I don't plan on all of the things being "done" by the end of 2011. Or even by the end of my life, for that matter. I will add to the list. I will subtract from it. It is just a good working tool to bring me back to middle ground when the days get hectic.

Bon Voyage 2010. You've produced in me some beautiful things. And you've reminded me that the ickiness of my insides can come forth if not kept in check. But I've appreciated you for what you are. The good and the bad. The curtain must come down on yet one more year of our lives. I hope I get quite a few more years ahead in my life to learn and enjoy.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

First Class

What is it about someone not using "Please" and "Thank You" that irritates me to no end? Or children seated in First Class? Or the children's granny perched up there like the Queen with her perfectly bloated botoxed lips? Or the fact that each one of the little kiddies has their very own DVD player? Or that one of the children, maybe five years old, orders "Orange juice and I don't want any pulp in it." Or that when mommy demands that the child says "Thank You" to me, the little pumpkin turns his head in protest to look out the window. Or that Daddy just sits by himself in Row 1 and stares out the window -- seemingly no connection or interaction with his wife, children, or his parents. Damned good thing Daddy was a looker or else he'd have nothing going for him. Or that this entire scenario plays out departing Orange County -- rich, white, Republican country where they have successfully legislated that aircraft departing their airport cut back on power after takeoff to reduce noise over their highly expensive homes perched along the Pacific Ocean.

No, when I'm thinking of people who are genuinely trying to make a difference in this world, this is not the family I think of first. When I'm thinking of families who give up their own Christmas gifts to go to the local soup kitchen on holidays to serve up meals, this is not the family I think of. When I think of parents telling their children "No" when it comes to excessive toys and fun in order to help mold and teach them about simplicity, this is not the family I think of.

I hate to think what tools these children will have to help build their lives into something with pronounced value to our world. Or the adults, for that matter. Or what happens when the little kiddies turn out to be alcoholics or druggies....and they have zero skills for solving their life's troubles. Or maybe when they are suicidal....or prone to depression.....and need help. Will they know where to get it or how to turn inward and look for answers? Who knows where they'll end up. But I sure hate to see it. Especially in First Class.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Jumpseat Therapy

I told her that perhaps I should go back to being a hetro and she and I could get married. "Umm hmm," was her reply. We've flown together for years. And, I must say, we all learn a lot from each other in what we call Jumpseat Therapy. That's what you learn, hear and experience when sitting ass-to-ass with a co-worker for every takeoff and landing. You hear about kids, school, holidays, marriages, sex, food, hotels, Bible lessons and the like. And, honestly, it's quite entertaining at times. Like today.

She tells me she's got a pooched out belly. And, lo and behold, that bad girl was poked out like she was about four months with child. She even lifted up her uniform vest for added effect and to make sure I could see her distended tummy. "Too much flax seed," she tells me. "I just knew I shouldn't have taken it before flying," she adds. I told her to go into the lavatory (I know, I know, they aren't called "lavatories" anywhere except on the airplane....) and get rid of whatever it was that was giving her that alien-like effect. Sort of like Sigourney Weaver with that Alien thing. "Maybe you should belch or go and pass gas," I professionally suggested....with my bitey personality begin to rear its head. "I've tried," she tells me...."I'm in bad shape." I honestly don't think that her blue polyester could have stretched out much further without the seams unraveling.

The girl is from Alabama. Nothing wrong with that. Except that it gives me fodder for giggles and fuel for the laughing fire. She and I can go at it for a bit.....feeding off of one another's comments and jokes. We've even been told that we should have our own TV show on Comedy Central. She tells me about her Momma and her family members who used to be in the Klan. And I tell her about my early childhood girlfriends who made me do naughty things to them and about my churchgoing days. She's amused.

And today she is clutching a bag. One of those orange plastic ones from the AT&T wireless store...you know, the kind that you bring home fancy new electronic devices in? That kind. She's grabbed that bag by the neck like a turkey headed for slaughter. It's her clutch, she says. I suggest, perhaps, that it's more a satchel or European Carry All. And we laugh. She continues on to tell me that it is, indeed, her purse. That another flight attendant actually talked her out of her purse -- he (yes, HE) told her that it would be perfect for taking to his soccer matches. So, she gave it to him. Yes siree, she actually gave him her purse. And now she's stuck with this wadded up orange ball of plastic with all of her worldly belongings in it. She toted that thing from the lavatory to the galley and back about 62 times today. All the while strangulating it by the neck. I wonder if it had contraband in it? Probably just some mad money, a chicken leg, and a spare tampon.

We had to sit down for quite a while today. Lots of turbulence and the Captain requested that we sit. Which left us plenty of time for reading, giggling, and making fun of passengers. Yep, we do. Well, I do, anyway. So, I'm enjoying my memoir of some distant gay guy author type when, just out of the corner of my eye......I spot something. The words "Fatal Attraction" are staring me in the face. She's holding up a copy of National Geographic or some other magazine with an article titled Fatal Attraction. Oh god, it's beginning to feel like the movie....with the rabbit and pot of boiling water. And then she fans through the magazine pages with all sorts of phallic pictures and artistic sorts of work. And some other scary pictures of a plant eating bugs.

That belly never did release its contents. It was just as far out at the end of our trip as it was to start. I suggested Gas X or something. And then I told her how nice it was to fly with her again. And we agreed that it was nice to be together after a holiday. And that reminded me of an old church song....."We're together again, just praisin' the Lord.....we're together again, in one accord....something good is about to happen, something good is in store.....we're together again ..... just praisin' the Lord." So, I sang it to her. Out loud. On the jumpseat. And with that, our day ended. Well, after the laughing died down. It's all in a day's work, really. I hope she gets rid of that horrible plastic AT&T bag by the next time I see her. And her gas. The gas has got to go.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Truly He taught us to love one another His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother And in His name all oppression shall cease.

I don't really much care if you're a church-goer or not. Nor what your particular beliefs are. Every time I hear these words, I consider how powerful they are. Not for the Christian part. Nor for the church part. Who cares. Their powerfulness comes from the fact that our world is falling apart. And I wish we loved one another. I wish that our gospel was peace to one another. I wish that we broke the chains of those around us who need help. And I wish that oppression would cease. That's why. Pass the peace around. And do it again tomorrow and the day after that too. Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Holiday Change Is In the Air

I hate to let this sort of news out, but I've actually had sort of a propensity toward enjoying being outside the last few weeks. With the cold weather and the chilling winter winds (and we've had plenty of them here in Portland). I don't want anyone to take me wrong, I don't love, love, love, love it. I'm just trying to enjoy it. And, honestly, I haven't been out in it for any great length of time or had to work outside in it -- which may very well make all of the difference in the world. But for now, I'm trying to embrace it and enjoy it for what it is worth. I'm in strong like of trees without their leaves -- when you can just see the stark, jagged branches against a winter sky....with the weak beams of the sun poking through just like in this picture. Painting long lines of shadows on the earth below. Today marks the longest day of our year. Less light than any other day. But, guess what, tomorrow will begin our venture toward more daylight....and you just can't beat that.

I am prepared to make a few changes in my life, I think. I've been considering, thinking and drafting up a plan for it for a long time now. And it's now in printed form ready for me to put my pen to and sign it into law. There is always a big risk with putting such an item into public review. It is nothing profound, except to me. Nothing earth shattering, except to me. Nothing of high regard or noteworthy, except to me. For those of us who think the way I do, we are always considering how we can be better. Analyzing how our mistakes of yesterday can be changed. And that time is now for me. January 1, 2011, you'll see the list here. A Re-Freshing is in order. A Re-Invention is in process. And a Re-Commitment to My Own Life is forthcoming. Anybody else want to join me in making their lives a better place to live?

LoverBoy is off on a pre-Christmas Honolulu trip and will return Christmas Eve. And we'll be off and running to downtown Portland to our old church for an old fashioned candlelight service complete with amazing organ music, lots of candles, and the late-night singing of Christmas carols outside afterwards on Portland's Park Blocks. It's a great way to begin the holiday. Christmas morning will find us home. Gladly. Just us, sharing stories, swapping memories, enjoying a moment of respite in this busy life. Christmas afternoon will find us at Alex and Paul's beautiful, warm home just a ways down the road from us. A&P have become great friends through the years and that is precisely why we enjoy spending such pronounced holidays with them. I'm amazed how our friends, and even our family, changes throughout the years. I remember when we were young that my father and mother would always welcome whoever needed a place to eat a seat at our table. I still like to do that. Open the doors to those who need a place to rest or enjoy a meal.

And we have done a nice job of keeping out of the fray, the mess, the holiday-ness of the malls and money-spending cycles of our world. We gave up the gift-buying thing about five years ago -- although I have discretely discovered a few stray small packages stuffed into our mantle stockings. I hope you'll enjoy this week. The blessings of it. The friends and family you have nearby. Take care of them, and let them take care of you. We all need one another in some twisted sort of way. To ease the sharp edges of this rough world. Merry Christmas week to you all.

Monday, December 13, 2010

At The Risk

At the risk of being too vulnerable, I've been working on a Re-Commitment To My Own Life. A long list of things that I'd like to improve in my life. Not that it will be accomplished today. Or even tomorrow. But a list of things that spin around in my head regularly when I make poor decisions or when I react inappropriately. And it is time to get started on heading in a better direction.

You see, the problem with putting things into print -- onto the internet -- is not necessarily that you're any more committed to the process than you were before but, rather, that you are now at risk for any number of issues with those who read it, those who know you better than some. Those very close to you. It's easy to hold something over someone's head when you know something about them. It's easy to be flippant with a reminder to them about the words that they used or the promises that they made. Or to make fun of them for their silly little list of commitments. And it is especially easy when, say, I'm not being a very good example of the Re-Commitment that I've made to myself. I risk others reminding me that I'm failing, or not achieving, the goals that I've put forth. But that's a risk that I'm willing to take.

I consider that my list is a life-long one. That I must be open to complete transformation not only when the list is put into print but to the end of my days. That it is probably a list that will be in cultivation for the remainder of my time on earth. I am fully aware that some of the commitments on my list are things that are deeply embedded in my way of living. And that they will be thorns in my side for many years to come -- to remind me of my humanity, my frailness as a human being. Nonetheless, I must work on them. And they are forthcoming. On January 1, 2011 you will find them here.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Celebrations

The whites are in the LG washing machine and will then be in the LG dryer which sits atop the washer. Who knew that dryers were tops. LoverBoy is in Honolulu and will be home via a tailwind tonight. I attended our former neighbor's Irish Coffee Christmas celebration last night for the first time in years by myself -- because the warm sands of Waikiki were more important to Hubby than partying with me. And perhaps it was the homemade eggnog with vodka (or the liquor-laden punch prior to the eggnog) that led me into a rather amorous conversation with a straight man about his biceps while his beautiful wife was at the other end of the bar telling me how young I looked and complimenting me on my bone structure all the while her breasts were doing their best to unleash the cage door and set themselves free from her pretty holiday dress. Oy. It was a nice evening.

Today I'm getting the sheets all washed up for C.S.N. We both get totally turned on by clean sheets. It's been a month today since my MIL passed away. And at the urging of my friend Blobby, I've just spent a few minutes downloading Apple's new free "Find My iPhone" app -- it used to be a pay service part of MobileMe. But now that piece of it is free. You can actually lock up the phone or wipe its data remotely if the phone is lost or stolen.

I'm continuing to fine tune my Re-Commitment to My Own Life which has been in formulation for many months now. I'm really excited to be putting my best foot forward on making sure my life is happening the way I'd like for it to be. But right now I need to go grab a piece of toast with chunky peanut butter and seedless blackberry jam. And some orange juice too. I've been up for three hours and need something on my tummy.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Lucky 13

We're just now revving up for starting our 14th year together tomorrow. Today is our 13th anniversary. We've come a very long way....in such a short amount of time. We've had quite the journey, not unlike most couples. The ups and downs attributable to any relationship. And we're not married because they don't let we types marry in this country. But we're happy in this our (approximately) 113,880 hour together. Honestly, we have a blast together. We've been to Europe three times, on three cruises, several trips to Provincetown, and many many other various places. He loves me, I know he does. And I adore him, you can be assured of that. I'm staying right here. And glad to do so. I'm feeling like it is only going to get better as time goes along. So, today, I confess my undying love for a partner who takes such good care of me. Who encourages. Who allows. Who permits. Who opens doors when there aren't any. Who respects. Who brings the biggest smile and cheeriest heart ever. I love you, LoverBoy. But that's not news to you. On we go....into the future, into who knows what.....with our hearts in as close of tune to one another as is possible.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Nose to the Wind

Or hand to the plow. Or whatever. It seems that if you're a salmon trying your best to swim upstream, the force of the water will do its best to get to you. Or if you're an airplane trying to buck heavy windstreams, that there will be some bumps along the way. No big news to anyone who has tried to make their lives a more pleasant place to be. I'm headed in that direction. Call it what you must -- mid-life crisis or whatever. That's fine. I've alluded several times to the fact that I've had a written list for a while now on things that I'd like to do in my life to make sure I'm going where I want to. Not actual things I'd like "to do"....like Disneyland or Europe or places. Those things come and go far too easily. I'm talking about internal sort of things that I know just are not quite right. Things that I know perfectly well are not in order and need to be. So, last Monday I put the list into a document. I'm refining it. Thinking it through. I want it to be a very fluid list -- with the ability to add to, and take away from, as needed. I've been working on it for the better part of a year. But I'm thinking that New Year's Day 2011 may be a nice time to put it out there. To commit to it. To put it to the next level on life's path. But like many of you already know, once you put it out there, devote yourself to some good cause, that's the perfect time for headwinds to blow even harder in their quest to knock you off course. I'm ready for that. Stay tuned......

We've ventured into the holidays nicely. Just a couple of small, quiet gatherings which is just the way we like it. We usually go to Happy Hour every single Tuesday with a group of friends. Tomorrow, we're having a Holiday Happy Hour right here in our condo. Our home has been awfully quiet since my MIL passed away three weeks ago. Hubby and I have been in a bit of an introspective mode, thinking, wondering, cleansing, clearing. He's doing amazingly well in his ability to sort out his feelings and emotions. And he had to have a last-minute kidney stone removed this last week. He's feeling better. This Thursday will be our 13th anniversary. I can't believe it.

And so, we're headed into a beautiful holiday season minus a family member this year. We're headed into it here in Portland completely by ourselves for nearly the first time in our years together. A busy season. With fairly quiet hearts. And looking forward to a new year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I'm So Glad He's Still Around

Did you know? Have you heard? He and I are coming up on 13 years together next week....on the 9th. Did you know that I had no plans for us to have ever made it this far? Were you aware that I was planning on being alone at this point in my life? Venture back with me, will you? December 1 is World AIDS Day. That means something very intimately different to each individual. For me, it begins here:

Part I -- When HIV Strikes Close to Home

Part II -- Epilogue....When HIV Strikes Close to Home

If you're in a hurry, don't bother. It takes some time to read these two posts. And be sure you read them in order. And it is really not the type of writing that can be skimmed or breezed through. These are posts for the hearty, the energetic, those really searching for knowledge and who really have an eager spirit for learning. I hope you'll open your heart, your mind, your ears and lives to those with HIV. Everyone needs a hand, a shoulder, a hug, whatever. Today is a perfect day to give whatever someone around you needs.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Post Thanksgiving Thoughts

Cyber Monday -- it's today, you know. While I'd love to get our first Blu Ray player, it won't be happening today....but soon, I have a feeling. We don't have a DVD player and blu ray is the future. So, there you go. No cyber money being spent by me today.

We put up our Christmas decorations yesterday afternoon after I returned from Austin. They look great. Just enough in our small condominium. Not overstated. And I must remind myself of the joy of such endeavors. I can easily be caught up in "the work" part of it. The "pressure to put them up." Especially this year with the passing of my mother in law, I think it's important for us to maintain, to be consistent, to enjoy.

I'm working on my Re-Commitment to My Own Life. I have a long list of things that I'd like to keep working on in my own life. And so I've put those things to paper. We'll see what shape it takes and where it goes. It's just a perfect reminder for me to have in front of my face on a daily basis of what I find important. I need it right now.

There's something disconcerting about receiving a confirmation copy of your mother in law's Do Not Resuscitate Orders from the state registry after her death. It made us both sad to see what her name on the form and the date she had made her requests known to the doctor....just a few weeks before she passed away. She filled out her DNR form one month to the day before her death. And the information was entered into the state registry system one week before her death. And we received the confirmation form two weeks after her death. Weird, these sorts of things.

We enjoyed a quiet, one-on-one Thanksgiving with just the two of us. Well, and Mason, of course. A few movies, lots of good homemade food, and a chance to breathe a little. Perfect. And now we head on into the final month of 2010....December. It rolls around just as quickly as it always does. We try to keep our running around to a minimum. We enjoy the smaller gatherings, the dinners, the intimate group of close friends -- rather than the large parties of people we may not even know very well. And we do have tickets to see the musical HAIR on New Year's Eve. It goes without saying that we're looking forward to that. In addition, we will celebrate our 13th anniversary next week.....on December 9th we will begin our 14th year together. Amazing the water beneath the bridge.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Thanksgiving

For a (nearly!) sound mind and happy heart, I give thanks. For the ability to think clearly and concisely, I am thankful. For a professional job over a lengthy time, I give thanks. I'm happy for a home where life is good most of the time, where we fight seldom, and for the fact that we care for one another dearly. For living most of my life with a healthy dose of common sense, I'm quite thankful. For the ability to put 2 and 2 together and come up with something good, I'm more than grateful. For a mind and body not typically given to depression or anxiety, I am thankful. For the massive dose of human kindness and friendship around me, I give thanks. For the ability to plan ahead, be prepared, and see into the future, I am thankful. For being able to run on time, get where I need to when I need to get there, and to not live my life with a lot of excuses, I am happy. To operate with low levels of dysfunction and toxicity, I give thanks. For a body that works most of the time, I am grateful. For a life not given over to harmful addictions or mental illness, I am thankful. For the ability to operate peacefully, contently and with deep love for leaves, trees, water, mountains and fields, I am thankful. Today, my list is long. I hope yours is too. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Dawns

The brothers-in-law have left, we just now deposited them at the airport. It's trying its best to snow but mostly rain. And the Celebration of Life was yesterday -- our condo was filled with 25 loving, caring friends who have been a part of our lives for numerous years now. LoverBoy is writing thank you notes as I write this. Our lives as we have known them over the last eight years are now over. God, it's quiet in this place. I could say that our lives will now be returning to normal but I'm afraid that I really don't take stock in "normal."

I'm working on a list. I've been working on it for some time now. It is still just a bunch of notes on a catering sheet from work at this point. Not quite sure when or how it will be final. Or what shape it will take. But I just know that it is time to recenter myself, returning to the roadway instead of tossing gravel about as the edges of my tires try their best to leave the proper path. There are definitely seasons to our lives -- looking back I can count many times when things were either up or down, driven to this direction or that because of the cycles in my life. The good, the bad. It all adds up to this thing we call our lives. I've been thinking a lot about focus. About prioritizing. About picking my Top 3, or 5, or even 10. What are my, say, Top 5 most important things in my life....the things that add value to my life, the things that will last into my old age, the things that I will be glad I did when I die. And about ridding myself of distractions, toxic activities or relationships, and negativity that taints one's heart and soul. Oh yeah, I'm a thinker, an analyzer. But I like me. For who I am. For who I can become.

This week is Thanksgiving. I'm not a giant fan of any particular holiday, nor a disliker either. But I like the word.....Thanksgiving. I'm a generally thankful person. One of the things on the list (alluded to above) that I'm creating is that at the end of each day, I want to pat myself on the back for one good thing I did that particular day and I want to also remember one poor thing I did that day....to remind myself to not to it again. Thanksgiving brings up those sorts of thought processes for me. Today, I am thankful for all of you. Not just "my readers" but my friends. For a million reasons not the least of which is all of the support you've given me, us!, over the past years as we've dealt with my in-laws and their care. I'm not quite sure where I'd be without your emails, comments, texts and actual in-person love! Thank you....on this Thanksgiving week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


Did you know how quiet one's phone can be? Except for the condolences and those checking on us to see if we need anything, it's been eerily silent. We've been in nearly constant chat all week long regarding the loss of his mother last Friday night. And the telephone was how she reached us. We have received several arrangements of amazing flowers. And a tons of cards in the U.S. Post. Even from those who we never thought we'd hear from again.

We spent last Sunday removing all of her belonging from her assisted living residence. Most went to Goodwill or the garbage. Some went to a shelter who clothes the homeless. We gave her bed away, the cane and walker to keep her stable were donated. And we've been reminiscing via old, really old, pictures and keepsakes. And her oxygen concentrator and portable tanks were picked up by the medical people who do that sort of thing. She was cremated on Monday afternoon.

I keep on checking in with LoverBoy. I can't imagine how it feels to lose both parents. To be alone in this world without those who brought you into it. He's a tough cookie. He's reasonable, patient, and has done an excellent job of getting to know his feelings. He's sorted out the good from the bad. Saturday is an open house and Celebration of Life for her....right here at our condominium.

Life ends up being so small at the end, it seems. Minute. Teeny tiny and baby. Nothing lasts. We end up all by ourselves with only the pajamas or gown that we die in. It's so strange. The bills don't matter. The idiosyncrasies seem to fade. Those things that we chose to elevate to a place of prominence are reduce to zip....zero. Bad attitudes have the life sucked out of them. And sometimes our enemies become our friends. Things do change, over and over, in our lives. We must move, shake, roll with it. Be pliable and flexible. I think that may be one of the keys to making this fast-passing time on earth a bit easier to deal with.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Me & Momma

My Mother in Law has left us. For years, she's been my MIL in the electronic arena. It was last Friday night when she decided that enough was enough and breathed her last. I met her years ago, 13 to be nearly exact, when she still lived in Santa Maria, California. In 2002, we (I!) decided to push for them to move nearer to us in Portland for health care reasons. He passed away two years ago. And she, last Friday. Both were 82.

Living with any person, or persons, is difficult. Dealing with family, in laws, parents, children and the like is not always a cake walk. In fact, family can bring about feelings and decisions and actions that don't typically feel like we're being ourselves. They know our buttons, and use them freely. They know how we'll react, or not, and thrive on that. Momma had a myriad of health issues from congestive heart failure to breathing difficulties to a strong thread of addiction issues.

She and I struggled nearly from the time they arrived in Portland. It will come as no surprise to anyone that knows me that I'm a pretty black-and-white sort of guy. I'll typically tell you the way it is. I'm a mover, a shaker. I get things done. I'm about solving troubles, not covering them up. I'm a nice guy but I'm not a sweet guy. And all of those things are points at which she and I came to terms. Blows. Repeatedly. She was none of those things. Her beauty came in simplicity, easiness. Nothing formal, nothing with time restrictions or dates attached to it. It came in smiles to others, sharing a leftover piece of cake with someone, or a simple card left at somebody's door. She hated dates, times, and places. She wanted no requirements, nothing formalized, no "have to's." When backed into a corner, she'd take the road of non-commitment. She would rarely commit to being anywhere at a particular time unless she had to. She could not stand people telling her what to do. Given her own vices, she would probably not be where she was supposed to at the given time and date. She'd get there on her own time....after a "Wee." And "I just need my water." And "Where's my purse?" And, "I just have a couple of things to do first....." She was never ready. And that drove me up the wall. And she didn't care.

Momma and I came to blows twice. Really, really horrible spars. Complete with foam out of the mouth, and rage in the eyes, the most vile of words, and tears. We never really got better after that. She took advantage of me more times than I can count. I knew her, she knew me. I think she liked me, I don't think she really took to me. I think she appreciated me for who I was and the things I could do for her but I don't think she would have chosen me to be a friend of hers in the big wide world of people to choose from. I think she valued me as her son's partner and that I take care of him, and stick up for him. Nearly always, he and I stood together. Her addictive personality ran the home. And caused her life to be in turmoil. She was rarely at 100% peace for very long. Until now. She struggled, she thrashed about, she was upset often, she always needed something else, she had fear in her eyes sometimes, she always needed a hand-holding person. Her life was pleasant, lovely, when filled with her vast array of old friends. But her life was a real bitch when the ugliness of her troubles reared their ugly heads. Isn't that the same with all of us?

Today, she rests. Without pain, discomfort, the feeling of being unsettled and always needing something else. Today, the medications are needed no more. The edgy, dire phone calls have stopped. She tested me repeatedly. Many times, intentionally. I have had to learn, to change, to evolve. Because she was my partner's mother. And an aging human being who needed help. I hope I'm a better person and have learned a few lessons because of her.

And today, I ask for comfort on her tired soul. For rest and....finally...coming to a place of eternal peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Time Draws Nigh

UPDATE: Eleanor passed away at 6:18pm Pacific Time tonight Friday November 12, 2010. Finally, at peace.

The time draws nigh for my Mother in Law. She lived in her brand new assisted living facility for around six weeks. And struggled the entire time. Last Saturday, we were packing and prepping for our week-long vacation with my family in Boise. We stopped by to see her and, clearly, things were not well. The nurse was with her and had already arranged for her to be moved immediately to a nursing facility to receive medical care that could not be provided at the assisted living home. That was a week ago tomorrow. The first few days were filled with anger, yelling out, calling 9-1-1- from the nursing home bed, and threatening to walk out of the place. The folks at Providence Elder Place in Portland have been nothing short of amazing and responsive. They have arranged for an overnight care person to sit with her. She hasn't eaten in five days. Her veins have collapsed and they are unable to get an IV into her arm for nutrition or medication. As of today, she is incoherent and at peace.

It is difficult, to say the least, to have thoughts of pending death of one's mother in law knowing all of the trouble she has caused us over the years. The woven pattern of each of our lives is made up of so many things. Life, and death, stir up a long list of thought patterns. Tomorrow we drive from Boise back home to Portland. We're hoping we get there in time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Boise Idaho Today

  • Well, it's happened. And all the while we're in Idaho! Wyoming has toppled my home state of Idaho in being the USA's most Red State. Hallelujah. The torch can be passed along.
  • We're enjoying a very relaxing visit at my Mother's house outside of Boise. It has been tainted a bit with MIL's issues back in Portland, my hubby's kidney stone that's waiting to pass, and my not feeling well. I see my mom far too little.
  • I love my sister to death. She has come to far-reaching points in her life...out of dire necessity. I appreciate being able to talk with her, understand her, and know that she is safe and happy. There were days that I never thought it would be possible.
  • MIL is not well. We had to move her out of her brand-new assisted living facility after being there only six weeks or so. The nursing home may be temporary, but probably permanent. She is just needing such a higher level of nursing/medical care. She's sleeping a majority of the time right now. And eating very little. She's angry, she's lashing out, she's irritated that we're in Idaho -- she always has hated it when we're away. Her roommate wants her moved out of the room. She's already called 9-1-1 from her nursing home bed because she "Needed Help." Her mental capacity is wildly erratic and unstable. I must give giant kudos to our new found friends at Providence ElderPlace in Portland. They have been lifesavers with coordinating her care, ordering anything she needed, sending caregivers, and making sure that we are also tended to. Seriously, they have taken us by the hand and helped us down a very rough road. And who says we don't need health care reform.
  • Our drive over was fine but we both did not feel well. What we usually enjoy as a great day was overshadowed by some of the worst rain I've been in for a long time...paying attention to pools of water on the road and Big Rig trucks made it tricky. And neither of us felt well. I'm a little better but have been having daily headaches and aches. The trees all of the way over were so pretty -- framed against the dark evergreens along the cliffs of the Columbia River Gorge and the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon.
  • Hubby has a kidney stone....3mm. He's had right-sided groin/hip pain for a long time and has been trying to get it solved via ultrasounds and several CT scans. So, now the stone has been discovered and must pass. Gawd, we're getting old ..........

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Beginning of Return to Center

I have begun to draft a new, written commitment to myself and my life. It's no surprise that it has been out of control for some time now. Just the simple act of writing things, ideas, down has been quite calming. I'm feeling a tremendous need to get back to basics in my life. Centering, balance, and focus have become my daily energies. And now that our nation has taken a turn for the worse, it adds that much fuel to my fire for refocusing. I feel a huge need to look at different things in my life. To stop looking at other things. The moon slivers, the faint hint of clouds in a clear sky, those are the things that have always spoken to me. But nowadays, they speak even more strongly. The television, the internet, are speaking less. Staring sounds perfect. Gazing is calling my name. I need to shed things that distract me. Things that erode my sanity and balance. My middle names are about to become Mountains, Sky, Rivers, Clouds, Trees and Grass. They remain staid. And that's what I need right now.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Wind Knocked Out of the Sails

Well well now, that was rough, wasn't it? Red casting its bloody hue over blue -- making exactly what color? Who knows. I'd say that there are a fair amount of hacked off people in this nation. In all sorts of corners with all sorts of feelings and issues.

I was doing my safety demonstration today standing in mid-cabin when I just happened to glance over my shoulder and down to the magazine that a man was reading. I learn a lot of things that way. All I caught was "An Armed America is a Safe America" before he turned the page to another precious article titled "Armed Citizens Are America's Saving Grace." It is straight out of a publication by you know which group...and I refuse to put a link to it. And then it hit me -- I'm a stranger living in a foreign land. I'm living in a nation where people don't think like me, appreciate me for being who I am, nor care about my rights. Some do, many (most?) do not. Fags are not a respected group in the country of my birth. And it's time that I face that. I've spoken before about the liberal sort of free spirited bubble that we tend to live in here in Portland. And it is exactly that...a bubble. Not reality, except for Portland's. Not an accurate reflection of our country as a whole. Just Portland's own little thing. For which I am highly thankful. I couldn't be happier to live right there. But even here, things are closing in. We are damned close to electing the very first Republican governor in my 13 years here in Oregon. People have had it. They are pissed and full of anger. Not just at Democrats. Everyone is angry with everyone. I've written repeatedly about how I think our world is going to self-destruct sometime. Implode. Dissolve. It can only continue for so long. I easily see a sort of civil war or destruction in this Red, White and Blue Nation. The proud, the patriotic, aren't really so. I mean, it sounds good when the flag is waving, or perhaps when a Lee Greenwood song is playing over loudspeakers, or candles are lit. Or even when a military jet flies over. But the inbred bottom line and reality is that we're fighters, scrapers, schoolyard bullies. We have minimal respect for one another. We like to say we do, but it's quite scant. We'd rather have a gun slung across the cracked back window of our pickup than allow two men to marry. We think that it's more important to allow freedom of speech than to actually invest in the systems of this nation that may keep us afloat. Screw education....that costs money. To hell with the young and old, we just can't afford it. Maybe we should just get rid of Social Security (after all, it was a Democratic-induced social system, don't forget). Apparently our focus is not on helping those who need it.

I told my bigoted far-right Republican step father a few years back that I really have little interest if you call yourself a Democrat or a Republican. The name means nothing to me. What matters is your actions.....toward others, not yourself. What are you actively doing to help others, to make others lives better? What matters is that you take care of those who cannot help themselves. The poor, the young, the old, the mentally and physically challenged. And we're not. We're far more focused on how much money it's going to cost. So, here we are. Rich white people in charge. A few good looking airheaded women for added measure. One nation under god? Nope, I don't think so. There's little about this nation that is "one." And god will have nothing to do with this mess. And we continue to suffer. And suffer we will. Until we cave in. The walls will collapse. They've already begun to.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween Hauntings

The last day of October. Halloween. Tomorrow is All Saint's Day. Five years ago tomorrow we left on one of our European whirlwinds with visits to Krakow, Poland...Prague and Dresden, Germany. The leaves are at that prime, amazing color level. We were up on top of the Fremont Bridge in Portland today crossing over the Willamette River....we could look across to the sea of colors toward the East side. We took Mason to his very first Doggie Play Group at Lexie Dog in The Pearl.....one of Portland's upper crust sort of areas on the north edge of downtown. He did so well (except for that little issue of trying to ride some 4 pound little pooch.....he's such a man). It's free every Sunday, and it's indoors. We have very few Sundays free that we can actually take him to something like that. And now it's Halloween. We have no plans. No costumes. And it's a great day out.

I had a quite nice time with my friend Shawn over a cup of tea yesterday at one of Portland's tea houses The Tao of Tea. We enjoyed a warmed pot of Roiboos Chai with soy milk and sweetened with Chinese jickory (sort of like brown sugar). Delicious. The place is warm and cozy with a giant tea menu and choice of how you have it served to you. We had a beautiful blue and white Chinese pot in front of us to sip on. We both blathered on and on about life, our desires, our wants, our needs, and where we are at. Or where we are not. It's been a very, very long time since I've enjoyed two unstructured hours of time with one other person one on one. Shawn is a good man and a great friend. He and I are at sort of similar places in our lives. We love life, we want more, and we're sorting out things to make sure we're headed in the right direction.

I'm breathing better and sleeping better too. As you well know, the last few years have taken their toll on me. Things just are not headed in the direction that I'd like them to be. I just have not been myself over the last years. And I don't like it. (See above paragraph.....) But I'm relaxing a bit. And I've begun to make a long list. Of likes, dislikes, things to change, things to hold on to. Even the simple act of giving thought to those things is therapeutic. And I've scribbled them down on the back of one of our airplane's catering sheets...the sheets that are taped to the front of each one of our food carts that arrive on the aircraft. The back is blank and I've used them many times throughout the years to make list, notes, write, and draft ideas. I'm headed toward a New Contract for Life With Myself. I'm not quite sure precisely what that means or how it will end up. But we'll see.

Next Sunday, we're jumping in the Kia Soul and heading down the Columbia River Gorge toward Idaho. My family often gets placed on the back burner with our visits and attention. We've been much more focused elsewhere in recent years. And the Idaho gang needs our visit....and we need to see them! We love our road trips.....gathering up Mason and plugging in the tunes as we traverse the 415 miles to my parents house outside of Boise. There's something horribly enjoyable and happy about the three of us in the car zipping down the road. And we always stop at Starbucks in Hood River, Oregon for a fix.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Headed in the Wrong Direction

I could wait until January 1...the New Year. Or wait until my birthday, which comes next February. It could be a formalized New Year's Resolution. Or I could just say it out.... today .....and see what happens. I'm headed in the wrong direction.

I'm not happy with where my life is right now. I am 48 years old and am not living my life the way I want it to be lived. My life is at least half over and I do not want the second half of my short time on earth to be reflective of the way it is going today. It is not feeling like the way I want it to be. I'm sort of happy but not overly. I have some fun, but do not allow myself to indulge....I never have. It's just not right. It is not me.

There, I've said it. That's the first step...right? I am a positive person. Seriously, I am. I look generally for the good in any situation but have a very fair balance of realism tucked into my world views. But the last few years of my life, the middle age piece of it, has not looked like my earlier years. I just don't feel like myself any longer. I suppose that age definitely has something to do with it. Things do change, you know. But I was hoping that things would change for the better, not the worse. I've tinkered with bouts of depression in recent years. Something that has never been a part of my life in the past. I feel like I'm in a tunnel with no way out, like the pressure of the world is just too much. Like I don't want to do anything, go anywhere, be with people, or participate in activities. I've quit the gym....although I have gone back to yoga the last few weeks. I enjoy my time with friends but they are overshadowed by this tempered feeling of blah...mediocre. I just don't have a lot of fun anymore. And all of that is, quite simply, not me.

I used to be the sort of guy who was a go-getter. A rebel rouser, a confidant, a person who would get things done pronto. I'm the guy who others would come to for advice and help. Not anymore. My world view is slanted and dark. I'm jaded. I'm irritated, angry and upset by crap....nothing. I leave yoga and within minutes, seconds!, I'm flipped out at silly drivers around me. My yoga instructor said it best recently: That we practice. Daily. Over and over. Repeatedly. We keep on working at it.

I am 48 years old and don't really have an answer. I have some ideas. But they must be put into motion, action, for them to work. And that's what I'm having trouble with nowadays. Action. I want to be like my mom when I am her age.....not like others who act their old age, can't move around, are cranky and nasty. And I can see myself becoming the dark side of that and I do not like it. Who knows where things are headed but I do know that I don't want them to continue for much longer being the way they are today. No, I'm not suicidal, so stop worrying. But if I were, I can't easily see where things may head. That's hard to hear from Mister Positive, isn't it?

So instead of waiting until New Years or my birthday or some other appropriate time, I thought I'd just toss it out to you...to the world....the breezes of the globe. For practice. For help. For honesty.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Reminder to Myself -- It Gets Better

I think that this whole It Gets Better campaign as of late has been as much for me, personally, as for those struggling teenagers. My life is not where I want it to be. It feels quite out of sync right now. And every time I see one of these It Gets Better videos, I am reminded not only of my childhood but of my current, today, state of being. I think we all need reminders. No matter our age. It Gets Better.

On October 18, 2010, members of Dallas' Turtle Creek Chorale joined singers from over 30 area religious institutions and students from Southern Methodist University in a performance titled, A Night For Peace.

WIth just three rehearsals to prepare, the 300+ "Partners In Harmony" massed chorus offered a full-length concert, which concluded with Bach's DONA NOBIS PACEM (Grant Us Peace) from his Mass in B Minor.

All stories are real. Featured speakers are current members of the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Conducted by Dr. Jonathan Palant
Filmed and Edited by Israel Luna

Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, Texas

For more information visit:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proper Washing of Bath Towels 101

Bath Towel Washing 101

You're going to hear it from me first. Before anyone else. Because I just have this sneaking suspicion that not one other single writer in the world is probably covering this titillating topic today. They're probably busy with other less important work (don't tell them I said so). On the other hand, let's not pretend like you've never had the reason that your towels smell so badly cross your mind. You know, you use a towel or wipe your hands off on it and, suddenly, your hands stink like that wretched towel. Towels tend to get pretty icky and sour smelling if not taken care of....regularly, every single time. If you think I'm kidding, just do your very own research on The Internets or the Googles. All sorts of folks are having trouble. And I used to....I spent one entire day about a year ago devoted to washing, rewashing, drying and redrying all of our towels. With baking soda, with vinegar, with a special product from a sporting goods store. Over and over until they were smellin' like roses! So, if you've got your cup of tea nearby and are ready to learn, keep reading. Because I know that you represent the best in today's Modern Woman....and because inquiring minds want to know:
  • Wash towels far more often...don't allow bacteria to form in the first place.
  • Don't fold up towels after use and allow them to sit all day folded in bathrooms without allowing them to dry. Keep them opened up, spread out, to make sure they dry each day.
  • Wash them in hot, hot water. Today's high efficiency washers use far less water than older washers....so make sure it's nice and hot.
  • Use the right amount of detergent -- today's high efficiency washers require less detergent which means less mildew-fighting ingredients. Make sure you use enough. And did you know that not all detergents are created equal?
  • Use the hottest temperature your dryer allows....do not use the automatic cycles for towels. Today's high efficiency dryers use lower temperatures for drying....and towels require far hotter temperatures to be sure the bacteria is killed. Dry towels for longer than any other item.....even if they feel dry or feel hot, does not mean the bacteria is killed.
If you've got towels that currently smell like they have dried your inner upper thigh private areas one too many times, here are a few ideas:
  • Use baking soda, vinegar (not balsamic....save that for your pasta), or WIN High Performance Sport Detergent (sporting goods stores) along with your hot water. You may have to repeat the wash cycle several times to get the towels up to a Modern Woman's proper standards.
  • You may have to allow your washer load of towels to actually sit in the hot water and detergent above for a bit. To kill, destroy!, the invading bacteria.
  • Use extra rinse cycles at least until the towels are brought back up to good-smelling standards.
  • Using fancy, flowering-smelling fabric softeners and dryer sheets to cover up smells does exactly that...covers them up. Skip the good-smelling stuff so that you can see if your towels are actually clean or not.
  • Dry the hell out of those things....on high, for longer than you think is necessary....ours dry for one full hour on the hottest temperature available.
Here are a few links from the Internets if my above thorough information hasn't provided you quite enough food for thought:

WikiHow -- How to Remove Mildew Smell From Towels

And because I know that most of you are, indeed, "Modern Women," I present.....

Today's Modern Woman -- How To Get Mildew Smell Out of Towels

You'll thank me for all of this information later. I just know you will. I feel it.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Well well now, my hands have been gently slapped. In a nice sort of way. One of my readers has brought to my attention that I have not really expressed my viewpoints on President Obama since that big, old giant Inaugural Party that we hosted way back when. You remember, don't you? When we just knew he was going to be the end all, be all, for we who are less than citizens.

I am fully aware that politics will play out as they usually do -- in the media.....and that all depends on which news channel you watch and which newspapers you read. What is said and done today doesn't really matter. It's all how it plays out in the months, and years, to come that matter. Long term versus short term. The big picture. Having said that, I have been more than happy to have President Obama in the driver's seat whilst compared to the lunatic that we had before (haven't heard a word from Bush, have you??).

I must admit that my feeling about our nation, and world for that matter, in general is waning. Something is not right....we're off kilter. And it's a far larger issue than our President. But, admittedly, I have been left with a less-than-pretty feeling about what has happened, or not happened, in our country since he has taken office. I am adult enough to recognize that any President is dependent upon the House, Senate, governors, Supreme Court, and other local entities to make it all work out. He is not singularly in charge of meeting each of our whims. And that's where many of us take him to task. We want more! We want it differently! We want this and that. Hell, who doesn't!

I am more than happy that he has appointed two females to the Supreme Court. I am happy that his administration has hired more gays and lesbians than the Bush and Clinton White Houses put together. He has made the environment a larger focus than before, he has shifted the war from Iraq back to Afghanistan where it began, he has closed torture-camp Guantanamo Bay, he has at least tried to get the health care monster headed in the right direction, he and the First Lady have both made education a huge priority, and he has taken away the unilateral, by god and by gum, sort of attitude that Bush ran his regime with, and he has added sexual orientation to hate crimes legislation as it should be. I'm pretty pleased with that. We certainly didn't have it before. And we certainly wouldn't have much of it with, oh say, a President McCain.

I do wish for more. But I do not wish for more at the possibility of it being taken back away in the future by the Supreme Court or by the next Presidential administration. I want it done right, legally, formally, set in stone. Don't Ask Don't Tell is a biggie. Huge. And definitely needs to happen. And there are days that I wish that Obama would grow a big old giant pair of black balls and wrestle that DADT deal to the ground. But I doubt that will happen. But I do not want it to happen in the wrong way, or with the possibility of creating additional adverse conditions for those GLBT service members already serving. You do realize that it's not going to be all yummy smelling roses....right??? And, remember, it was a Democrat who signed it into office thinking that it was the best way for it to accomplish an overtly touchy subject.

And I do wish that we gays could marry. Who doesn't?! But we can't. We live in a country of hate and old-school, Dark Ages, sort of mentality. We live in a country divided. It's time that we face that. It's time that we recognize the fact that we gays often live in a bubble. A pretty glass bubble. I live in Portland, Oregon, where gays and lesbians pretty much have the run of the mill. We are open, live freely, and are able to walk the majority of our city with freedom and safety. But I also live here knowing that if I venture more than 20 miles past our city borders, I'm in trouble. In general, the nation I live in doesn't like me. I know that. And yet, I'm still here. I'm still an American. I'm still a fag. It's not always going to go my way. It takes a big person to come to grips with that. I wasn't born in one of the many intelligent, fair countries currently giving marriage benefits to gays. But it doesn't preclude us from continuing to hope, and work toward, more. But I honestly don't think we'll ever be a nation like many of those in Europe. I'm a realist. I know that in my life, I probably will never be able to be recognized on a Federal level as far as many rights go. That's the harsh reality of living here.

So, yeah, I'm glad that President Obama is our President. I simply cannot imagine having Vice President Sarah Palin and President McCain at our helm. More? Oh yeah, I want it. Happy? Pretty much but not completely. Sounds like most of life, doesn't it?

It Gets Better

I love this energy, spirit and drive. I love the smiles. The free-for-all attitude and how much fun they look like they're having. I needed to hear this today. I imagine that many of us do.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I love being alone, that's no surprise if you know me. I've been off for a week now. Vacation. Holiday. Whatever you want to call it. I have not been at work for a week. And, guess what, want me to make you even more jealous? I have another week off. I've been home, gone nowhere, had lunch and breakfast with a few friends, and have take more than one nap with Mason. The weather has been amazingly beautiful. I've done basically nothing.

You see, it's odd for me. I'm typically the one gone. Typically the one with multiday trips that leave me in cities other than my home overnight. And LoverBoy is usually the one home taking care of Mason. So, this whole deal leaves me feeling a bit surreal and strange. And LoverBoy is the one that has been gone and will be gone again later in the week. I like it, but it is a strange sensation. I'm not quite sure what to do. That may sound strange to you but consider that we've been together for 13 years. And the first seven years we were together 24/7...work, overnights, vacation, home, the whole lot. And now, it's a bit of a mixed bag. And this particular stretch of two weeks is basically me home alone.

I've watched British Comedies on PBS, eaten Doritos and chili-cheese flavored Fritos for dinner, went to bed when I wanted and got up when I wanted, left the kitchen towel unfolded on the counter, and worn the same underwear for two, or three, days in a row. I've had plenty of time for blog perusal, reading the news, checking out inappropriate websites, writing letters and notes to those who need them, and had our weekly Happy Hour with friends by myself. Mason gets in bed at night and wanders around his Daddy's side of the bed...looking, wondering. And then he curls up tight next to my chest and heaves a giant sigh. I've been on Flight Tracker watching LoverBoy's airplane go from Portland to Maui to San Diego....and will see him go to Chicago later in the week. I'm the one who usually is in the air wondering if somebody, anybody, is watching me on Flight Tracker.

In spite of being quite self-sufficient, I have to be honest -- I'm not so sure this alone lifestyle is for me. It leaves me less than fulfilled. Less than enamored. I love my quiet time, my personal time....but if it were my entire life I can tell you that I'd have a hard time motivating myself to get anything done. Mason and I would do nothing. Naps. Wasting time on the internet looking at scantily clad men. Zero. Nothing of any value.

But Daddy is coming home tonight. Briefly. You'll excuse me now but I have to go and fold the kitchen towel and put away the chili cheese flavored Fritos. I don't think that leaving irrefutable evidence lying about is appropriate.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teri or Terri

Teri. Or was it Terri? I just can't quite remember. Teresa was her full name but she went by Teri. She was 18, I was 15.....which puts this story at about 1977 or so. And it puts me at illegal. In Boise, Idaho, while Teri and I were both attending Boise Valley Christian Communion....a big church of more than 1,000 that met in a warehouse on the banks of the Boise River. It was filled with the spirit, the church was. Teri was my girlfriend. Well, more of a friend who was a girl than an actual, per se, girlfriend. She scared me too much. Actually all girls scared me too much, now that I think about it. Teri and I were in the youth group together despite the fact that she was a high school senior and graduating already. She had a full-time job and a real, honest to goodness Fiat that was her very own to drive around town. She delivered Meals on Wheels each afternoon to shut-in seniors who needed food. She wore these big old giant glasses that seemed to cover half of her face...the lenses tinted in a lovely shade of purple, blue, or periwinkle. She lived with her mother who also went to our church in a single-wide trailer. Oh, I know I'm supposed to say "Mobile Home" or "Manufactured Home" or something else like that. But, honestly, in the 1970's in Idaho they were trailers. Alright? Seriously.

Teri was the first chick that I, um....ahem.....** clears throat loudly ** .....well, you fill in the blanks here. I'm just too embarrassed to say. She was the one. In the afternoons while her mother was at work. In Teri's big waterbed. In The Trailer! In the Trailer Park! Oh god, this doesn't sound good, does it? It wasn't. You see, Teri was, shall we say, aggressive. Forceful. Demanding. Of me. Remember, she was the first (and practically the only, quite frankly). I swear to god, that girl made me do things I wasn't not prepared to do. Forced my head here and there. Told me out loud and naughtily what to do, how to do it, and how not to do it. She scared the living hell out of me. And we're not talking about normal, run-of-the-mill things here. Some. But some not. I still lay awake nights sweating thinking of her telling me to do it this way or that way. Perhaps I should have been a bit more educated after sneaking peeks at The Joy of Sex while I babysat over at my cousin's house -- but I just wasn't. And so this went on. In the trailer, in the afternoons. And if that didn't work, she'd drive me around behind some school house after dark to perform The Act.

At, or near, the time Teri was graduating from high school, she decided to go into the military. The Army. And also along about that time, she called me one day and asked me to come over to The Trailer for the afternoon. Unable to say no, I drove my 1970 Plymouth Gold Duster with its black plastic seats over. I jumped out of the car and headed up the sidewalk toward her front door. The door was open, the glass screen was pulled shut, so that I could see right straight into the house....to the couch (or "Davenport" as we called it growing up for some reason) on the far wall where Teri was sitting. In her purple glasses. And with her arm draped around the manly shoulders of another woman. "I'm in love with this woman. She is my girlfriend," she tells me. "And I'm going into the Army," she continued. Oy vey.

Teri went into the Army. She ended up at Fort Riley, Kansas, for some time. And she went on to marry a man. A black man. I think they had babies. And I don't know another damned thing except for that. Well, that, plus the fact that her mom tried to get me into Amway shortly after that. I wonder where those purple glasses are now? And that damned water bed.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Art of Racing in the Rain

A driver must have faith. In his talent, his judgment, the judgment of those around him, physics. A driver must have faith in his crew, his car, his tires, his brakes, himself.

The apex sets up wrong. He is forced off his usual line. He carries too much speed. His tires have lost grip. The track has gotten greasy. And he suddenly finds himself at turn exit with no more track and too much speed.

As the gravel trap rushes at him, the driver must make decisions that will impact his race, his future. To tuck in would be devastating: wrenching the front wheels against their nature will only spin the car. To lift is equally bad, taking grip away from the rear of the car. What is to be done?

The driver must accept his fate. He must accept the fact that mistakes have been made. Misjudgments. Poor decisions. A confluence of circumstance has landed him in this position. A driver must accept it all and be willing to pay the price for it. He must go off-track.

To dump two wheels. Even four. It's an awful feeling, both as a driver and as a competitor. The gravel that kicks up against the undercarriage. The feeling of swimming in muck. While his wheels are off the track, other drivers are passing him. They are taking his spot, continuing at speed. Only he is slowing down.

At this moment, a driver feels a tremendous crisis. He must get back on the gas. He must get back on the track. Oh! The folly!

Consider the drivers who have been taken out of races by snapping their steering wheels, by overcorrecting to extremes and spinning their cars in front of their competitors. A terrible position to find oneself in.

A winner, a champion, will accept his fate. He will continue with his wheels in the dirt. He will do his best to maintain his line and gradually get himself back on the track when it is safe to do so. Yes, he loses a few places in the race. Yes, he is at a disadvantage. But he is still racing. He is still alive.

The race is long. It is better to drive within oneself and finish the race behind the others than it is to drive too hard and crash.

From The Art of Racing in the Rain, a novel by Garth Stein.

I've just finished this novel. The first four chapters had me hooked. Easily. The book is written from the point of Enzo, the family dog. Any pet lover will find himself locked into pet feelings, emotions, and behaviors. The tie, the bond, the connection, between a human being and a pet is powerful. But then the book takes a few bends and twists that left me less than interested. Stein is a great author -- capable of delving into theories, patterns and thoughts that only pet owners will understand. But parts of the book felt sort of high-schoolish and immature compared with the first few amazingly deep chapters. I liked parts of this book so much that I'd like to recommend it. But much of it left me feeling like I was reading a simple sort of creative writing piece in school. Nonetheless, for anyone struggling in their life, or for pet owners, or for those facing trials or troubles, you'll be able to capture more than a few ideas on how to right yourself, center yourself......on what's worthwhile in this life and what is not. And that, my friends, is exactly what I needed in this time of my life. A bit of centering, correction, help.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Portland Lesbian & Gay Film Festival

This week is one of my favorite weeks here in Portland. It is the different, the odd, the unusual that not only makes me like Portland but, in particular, like this week. It is the Portland Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and it runs over the course of a week including the weekends on both ends. You'd think that in a week's time we could actually get to quite a few flicks....but not so. Last night was almost our only chance to see two of them.

We Have to Stop Now -- Is a romantic dramedy that follows two lesbian therapists as they struggle to keep up the pretense of staying together when a documentary film crew invades their home after the success of their book “How To Succeed In Marriage Without Even Trying.” Lesbian therapists Kit and Dyna have it all: they’re a power couple, they each have a thriving practice, and they've published a best-selling book. But Kit and Dyna also have a problem: right before the book came out, their relationship started falling apart. Naturally, they don’t want anyone to know. They are secretly in couples counseling, and so far, it’s not going well. And life is about to get a lot more complicated: Kit’s flaky sister has parked herself on their couch for the indefinite future, and a film crew has arrived to document their “perfect” marriage.

We joined the throngs of Subaru-driving, smart and sensible-shoe wearing Portland lesbians for this film (you knew that Portland hosts one of the world's largest lesbian populations.....right???). I felt like we were an oddity in this group. It was a sort of funny film but not super great. Nice to see because it was a part of the Festival and all, and something out of the ordinary, but I wouldn't see it again. The second film was great:

The Sisters --
Since their inception in 1979 to combat HIV and AIDS, the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have established missions all over the world, ministering to the masses with glitter, wit and charity. As German filmmakers explore the Sisterhood in Berlin, Montevideo in Uruguay and San Francisco, we find out that Sisters everywhere hand out happiness, along with a healthy dose of tongue-lashing. For anyone who has ever wondered why the Sisters wear white faces (or faces at all), this documentary lifts the veil for an inside look at the organization committed to safer sex, LGBT rights and performance art. As one original Sister says, “We’re not really anti-Catholic at all. We’re just anti-guilt, anti-hate, anti-negativity.” This exuberant documentary lives up to that commitment, sparkles and all.

And would you believe that Portland's very own Sisters were there with us! We had a great time.
And there's a chance that we may be able to see The Secret Diaries of Anne Lister later this week.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Overpriced Military Suicides and Facebook

Anybody have a ton of extra money laying around to spend? Nope. I didn't think so. Here's a list of 10 items that are overpriced and carry a giant markup when you purchase them. Its funny, I think of it often -- my mind is just geared that way, I guess. From text messages to Starbucks to bottled water.......we need to think smarter and stop opening our wallets as often. We need our own money more than anybody else needs it.

And speaking of something that just isn't quite right.....I ran across this startling article including disturbing information on the number of suicides in our country's military ranks right now. Four soldiers at Fort Hood, Texas, over just last weekend alone took their lives. My buddy who returned from Iraq recently tells us quite the stories of stress and mental strain that lurk in the bodies of many of our military folks. We do a very poor job of taking care of those who have volunteered their own lives for our nation's good.

My MIL is now in her new assisted living home. Its quite nice. Meals, baths, laundry, house cleaning, cable TV, phone, electricity, medications, treatments, transportation....all provided. I'd live there! She is a woman quite easily prone to anxiety-ridden moments. So it doesn't really matter where she is or how good it is....there will always be trouble. But I must admit that it feels better to us that she is safe and watched over. They will do a 30-day assessment at the end of one month to see if they feel she is still a good fit for the property and that her needs don't exceed what they can provide. We're keeping our fingers crossed that she recognizes that she's not in Club Med.

My hiatus from Facebook has been quite nice. I haven't missed it much at all. And the free time that I now have, and the lack of self-induced pressure, have been more than welcome. I'll be back on from time to time .... but it will not be like before. My life needs some attention right now. Its not right. Something is amiss and it must be controlled soon.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Heads Down! Stay Down!

So if you think I was kidding about we air hostesses and the bit of anxiety that we encounter each year when we are required to attend our annual recurrent training, take a look at this amazing video shot from inside the cabin during a planned emergency landing over the weekend. This is what we train for. Rarely able to be captured. But amazing and sends the chills through me. Just last Tuesday, not even a week ago, we went through our annual training in Seattle when we had to shout these practice drills. You just never know when they'll come in handy.

We have just finished two extremely long and tiring days moving my MIL from her old apartment into an assisted living facility 2.5 miles from us. All by ourselves. See, we're big boys now. Its a very nice home, great food, nice people, and small enough to fill intimate....only 38 people live there. We made about ten round trips in our Kia Soul with her belongings and had to borrow a truck from a friend to haul three pieces of furniture. We spent several hundred dollars on odds and ends for her that she needed to have to function well. But she's in. She's 82, cranky, and obstinate. In spite of all of our misgivings and unpleasant interactions, I hope she sleeps well and is happy. I can't imagine having to uproot myself at 82 without ever having to do such a thing in my life. Keep your fingers crossed, kids. She is rarely happy in one spot for any length of time. But, for now, she's settling into a very nice place. And we are exhausted. (And, to think, this was the weekend that I had planned to go to Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco.....oh, silly me........)

I've been monitoring my blood pressure three times a day since my interaction with my doctor on Friday afternoon. It has stabilized but not completely. The rest of the week will be spent finishing up the myriad of odds and ends from MIL's old apartment, cleaning, getting rid of things, etc. Oh, and that's in addition to work. Work does tend to present itself at the most inopportune times, doesn't it?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fattening Friday (Not So) Funnies

I left Austin, Texas, early this morning. Along the journey somewhere, I grabbed a copy of USA Today and found this delicious little tidbit -- that the USA is the fattest nation among the top 33 nations with advanced economies. Amazing. Nothing surprising, just another reminder of why we fail as a country. The article states that 72 million of us are classified as obese -- more than 30 pounds overweight. As a country we spend $147 billion dollars in weight-related medical bills in 2008. I know, I know...the numbers are very large, difficult to comprehend. I find it incomprehensible that we continue on this path -- allowing our nation's people to be fat, giant, huge! And to spend that much money each year when it most assuredly needs to be going to more necessary projects. We are in trouble as a country...that's no news to anybody. And its not political. Politics are the least of our introspective, internal worries. As a people, we are failing. We're fat. We're ignorant. We don't think. And we're in trouble.

LoverBoy and I have just returned from my doctor's office. I'm in a little trouble here. I've been having some heart sort of palpitations recently. Not really racing of the heart, pain, or pressure...nothing like that. But something isn't right. At the same time, my ears turn fiery red from time to time. I had an EKG today....it looked great. But my blood pressure was the highest ever recorded in my history....160/90. Outrageous. She took it again before I left...it was down a bit. She wants it monitored daily for a week. She also wants a salt-restricted diet, attention to what I'm eating, and exercise. If this doesn't all work soon, and if the blood pressure stays elevated, I'm headed toward blood pressure medications. And I'm really not thrilled about that. In addition, I've been under more stress than I've endured in recent times over this past year. It must be controlled. Changes must be forthcoming.

This weekend will find us moving my MIL from the nursing home she has been in since July into a permanent assisted living facility. A nice spot. A safe and comfortable spot. A very, very teeny tiny spot. With meals, transportation, attention to her medications and bathing and daily needs. Its not so far away, in a good location, and is quite perfect. On this particular issue, we're a bit more relaxed this afternoon than we have been in a very very long time. I have my fingers crossed for her future there. She is rarely happy anywhere over the long term. But it is definitely a step in the right direction. I'd like to think that this is one of many steps in a positive direction in reducing the stress in my life.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When You Got a Good Thing

Life is always interesting around our house. Lately, it has been far more pain, arguing and unpleasantness than ever before. We disagree. We fight. We endure fitful nights of sleep. We have little time for settling things up. But we continue, keep on, whatever. Because we honestly both love one another and couldn't possibly imagine either of our lives without the other one in it. What a dreary, lonely place to find one's self. Without the love and adoration of the one who has chosen to spend their life with you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Colorful Language

Irvington Village Assisted Living, Portland, Oregon -- We enter via the main doors, the place is crowded with typical lunchtime hubbub. People in wheelchairs floating up and down the halls, walkers, canes, a million things going on. And the lunchroom is filled with people. Maybe 100 or so around tables for 8 or 10. Irvington Village is located along MLK in Northeast Portland -- one of Portland's more African-American neighborhoods. So, all of that to say that this place is filled with a lot of African-American people. We were there on a quick visit to check it out for my Mother in Law. (She has since decided on another place.)

I dart into the restroom, unzip, ppeeeesssstttt, and in the middle of this whole gig, I hear yelling outside somewhere in the hallway. I can't quite make it out. It is muffled And these sort of facilities are known for a wide variety of people with an equally wide variety of physical, mental and emotional issues going on. You just never know what's going to happen next. You see, this was last Friday -- the beginning of Yom Kippur. So, I'm hunkered down with my pants undone in an ethnic neighborhood at the beginning of a Jewish holiday with all sorts of nut jobs in the building and my nuts hanging out. Why was I there? Why!

I venture out into the hallway, and can see through the glass windows into the lunch room. A man is at the microphone reading something Jewish, celebratory, historical, pleasant, enjoyable. Lo and behold, from the far other side of the room, this old Black man is pushing himself up from the table. He's dressed in a blue and white robe sort of thing, with big 4" wide blue and white stripes on it. He's wearing a hat and giant sunglasses. And he's irritated. I was really quick on identifying his emotion. Yikes. And he's headed toward me......I was in the doorway. And his blessed little potty mouth was uttering some combination of the following words and phrases:

"Mother f***ing Jews, I don't give a god da*mned flying f**k what holiday it is those son of a bi**ches had better watch out. I don't have to sit here and listen to this f**king Jewish s**t...."

Shall I go on? He was yelling it. And headed toward me. I moved to the far side of the hallway. To a table filled with literature -- little brochures and pretty things to occupy me while he passed behind me. Shall we say that MIL is not going to be living at this property. And not because she's not Black or Jewish. It's because she's a woman of high refine -- and her ears could never take the filthy language.