* * * My Words, My World, My Way * * *

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Sunday, May 30, 2010


Within half an hour the border situation was all but out of control. The pressure-release solution had backfired spectacularly. At the Bornholmer Strasse, the huge crowds waiting behind a screen fence to go through the exit process were starting to push forward, and to threaten the handful of border guards trying to keep them in order. At around 11.30, a group of East Berliners pushed aside the screen fence in front of the border crossing and everyone swarmed into the checkpoint area en masse. Checkpoint commander Lieutenant-Colonel Harald Jager decided that he was not prepared to risk the lives of himself and his soldiers. He ordered his men to stop checking passports, open up fully, and just let the crowd do what it wanted.

And the crowd knew what it wanted. Within moments, thousands began to pour through the checkpoint. They simply walked or, in most cases ran, into West Berlin. The sensation of running freely over the bridge, of crossing a border where such an action, just days or even hours before, would have courted near-certain death, brought a surge of exhileration that, if we are to believe those who were there, all but changed the chemical composition of the air and turned it into champagne.

Large crowds had already gathered on the Western side. They greeted the Easterners with cries of joy and open arms. Many improvised toasts were drunk. By midnight, all the border checkpoints had been forced to open At the Invalidenstrasse, masses invaded from the West and met the approaching Easterners in the middle.

The above paragraphs are from a book that I'm just finishing up. The Berlin Wall by Frederick Taylor, pages 427-428. This scene is from the night of 9 November 1989 when the Berlin Wall was finally breached. I remember that very night precisely. Having been to Berlin myself, and having actually stayed in a hotel on the former East side, this story brings back powerful memories. Especially because this is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. I thought it was a perfect story of freedom to commemorate Memorial Day. Have you felt some of those same feelings expressed in the paragraphs above? Have you ever felt such freedom before?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Where Does One Draw the Line ??

Umm, yeah....so ..... a little uncomfortable here..... but, hey, let's just dive right into the deep end of the pool...shall we? Bring a life preserver. I don't want anybody drowning.

Exactly, precisely, when does one draw the line on a relationship? End it. Say, "no thanks." I know, I know...it's completely different for each situation, each relationship. There are no precise answers. As adults, do you find yourself still fighting it out with people? Struggling to make sense of relationships? Going 'round and 'round with friends. Is there a limit? Or are we required to just keep on spinning the record hoping for a different sound out of the song the next time around? And please believe me when I say that this is not a post about a majority but, rather, an extremely small minority of relations in my life.

Now, and believe me when I say this, I'm no yummy piece of delicious homemade cheesecake to live with and even to be friends with. I can be moody. I know what I like and don't like. I will say "no" to invitations to things that I don't want to be a part of. I have an opinion, generally, and state it freely. I like to be alone many times. I like quiet and peaceful. I don't like drama and will not participate in it. Especially if it is someone else's drama. So I would never want to paint a holier-than-thou sort of picture of myself. But I do feel that, being an adult in my mid-life, that there are certain things I don't need to have in my life any longer. I have a core group of loyal, faithful friends. They love me, and I them. I am confident and secure in that. Then I've got an even larger group of folks who know me, mostly...but are not in my inner circle. You know that group -- we all have those subsections of our lives. And then there is that quite expansive group of Facebook friends, coworkers, and one-time folks that you meet. That's a very large group. I believe that I'm simply far too old to have to deal with some issues. I'm far too happy in such a giant chunk of this old life of mine, that I can't stand the thought of trying to sort out things for the umpteenth time. I lose interest after a while, you know?

I ran across a few articles on line recently. Relationship Struggle -- How Much Struggle Is Too Much Struggle? asks exactly that question. When it is just too much? And then another article was on Toxic Relationships and how to let go of them. I'm just tired of the ups and the downs.... the emotional highs and lows .... the merry-go-round that just won't quit.

I always try to ask myself what it is that I'm adding to each relationship that I have. What is it that I bring to the table in a positive, stable, adult sort of way? And what, pray tell, is it that I do to add a dark or unhealthy element to my relationship with you. I probably already know it. And I'm not afraid to acknowledge it. I'm most likely working on it. Or am I being the toxic part of a relationship. Am I the one who is dragging people down? And should I keep on keeping on? Keep on working it? Beating it. Trying to make it work. Hoping. Wishing. For what? What if it goes away? What if I declare the war over and just go home for a drink. Huh? What if?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

Ten years ago, you couldn't have made me get near an animal. Nope. Not a cat or dog or otherwise. I couldn't stand them. It's nearly the same way I feel about kids today. I didn't want them near me, on me, or slobbering on me. Ick. To think of finding a dog hair on my pants made me feel like I should tear them off and toss them in the wash with hot water.

We grew up with outside dogs. One at a time. And they were never inside, even in cold Idaho winters, except when it as excessively cold -- and even then, just to lay inside the door on a specific dog-worthy rug. And only for a while. Then, it was back outside. And I don't recall ever petting them or napping with them or talking to them. My, what a difference a few years makes. I'm pretty sure that actually enjoying feeling four paws pressed against my stomach and chest in the night is evidence of that.

He presses out hard with his four small paws when he stretches. They press firmly into either my back or my chest and middle-aged tummy when he does that. And I like it. I think it's cute when he stretches. And it is especially comforting in the dark hours of the night when it happens. I feel his dramatic breath exhale on my forearm when he rests his small chin there. And to look into his eyes is almost too much sometimes. Even know, as I'm writing this, I can hear him lying in his well-adorned-and-expensive bedding next to me...breathing, sighing (because he's dramatic like his daddies). At night, after lying at the foot of the bed for a bit, he "comes into the fort." It's underneath the covers, between us. He goes in head first. Butt last. And his little 12-pound body rests there. His cute little hind quarters right squarely between our chests. We look at each other and smile. We think it's cute although others are probably quite put off by it. I used to be.

I'm not sure when, or precisely how, it happened. But it did. I'm a dog guy now. I remember going to our friend Heather's house for brunch years ago. She has two big whippets. And who in the world would those dogs choose to lay on except me. The dog hater. LoverBoy looked at me. And I at him. He knew. I knew. My eyes showed it, like they usually do. But over the years, this old hard and crusty opinionated soul let them in. The dogs. I'm the guy who stops at nearly every single dog on the street to say hi. I'm the one who just has to pet them and tell them that they are good boys or girls. I scratch them behind their ears and kiss them on their heads. Just like a politician working the crowd. And they seem to put the silly, overly dramatic episodes of this childish world at bay for a while.

And when I climb in bed at night with LoverBoy and Mason, the world seems better. It's one of my most favorite times of the day. The quiet. The solace. The little games that we play -- even at our age. And, Mason, a big part of all of them. Just goes to show you that an old dog can learn new tricks. Even at my age.

** This post was prompted by my buddy Matt who posted a link on Facebook today to an article at The RhodesTer Chronicles detailing a PBS show "Why We Love Cats and Dogs."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Old Hood

You may remember our Old 'Hood. And really not so far from where we are now. There's a very old pub that sits along Sandy Boulevard, the old US Highway 30 that used to bring traffic into/out of Portland. It used to be called the Sandy Jug. It's now Pirate's Cove. But, no matter, that. They have a reader board sign out front that sports some of the craziest things around. Here's what's up now:

The "No Soul Necessary" is only funny because of this week's new acquisition ... speaking of the Kia Soul. I'm not sure if I should stop in for the beer, girls, or bar staff.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jealous Technology

Are You a Jealous Person? For the most part, I'm not. I have been through those stages of life where I was insanely jealous and did whatever it took to make myself look "good enough" to get whatever it was that someone else was getting. And, yes, I've had those feelings of wanting to hold on to something so tight that it couldn't possibly get away from me. But now, not so much. I'm confident. Secure. I like what I have and need nothing more. I don't mind if someone else has a nicer home, more money, or a better body. I mean, I wouldn't say "no" to any of those things. But I'll let them enjoy them. And I don't mind it if my LoverBoy goes out without me or has friends that are not my friends too. I am 100% sure that he loves me. And I him. I'm happy.

Do You Think We Spend Too Much Time With Technology? iPhones, iPods, iPads, Macs, PCs, Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Texting, Emailing, WordPress, FlickR, and and and and. I love it all, believe me. And I use my iPhone with just as much of a grin on my face as the next guy. But I've had the feeling of possibly declaring myself 100% technology free for, oh say, one day....or something like that. Turn off the laptop and mobile phone and leave them turned off. Just to be sure that I'm still sort of in touch with nature, the world, the blue sky, the dirty ground, and the voices around me. I've just observed far too many folks with their faces planted into their Smart Phones while the rest of the group chatted it up and enjoyed one another's company. And there are also friends who actually sort of "hide" behind technology. For escape. For security. It's easy to do. It requires no face-to-face contact or relationship skills. It's easy to say things, do things, even be things when no one else is there to act as a sounding board. Just a thought.....

Monday, May 17, 2010

Boom ! Thar She Blows !

I can't believe it has been 30 years. May 18, 1980. I wasn't living in Portland like I am now. I was in Boise, Idaho -- and in church praising Jesus on that particular Sunday morning. The local news is priming the pump for this Tuesday's 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens. You can see the live webcams here. It sits about 90 miles to the Northeast of us.....we see it every day (except on those eight months a year when it's cloudy and gray here....shh, don't tell anybody) minus the pointy top that it used to have.

Here's what it used to look like:

During the eruption:

And this is what it looks like on most days today:

We have taken a picnic lunch up to the Johnson Ridge Observatory many times. And I've even shot some photos from the air while traveling over it -- I've flown over it hundreds of time .... more times than I've crossed any other single piece of land. Even today, you can still occasionally find some of the debris from the eruption. And it has erupted several times since -- October 2004 I flew directly over it 30 minutes after this eruption. The captain called us to tell us what had happened and that he wasn't sure if we would continue on to our Seattle destination or not.

And then, again....only this time, we actually got to see this from our very own bedroom window in March 2005:

And just yesterday, there were rumblings at a different mountain in the Cascade Mountain Range -- Mt. Hood experienced a series of rumblings yesterday reminding us all of the churnings deep below us here in the Pacific Northwest. Mt. Hood sits to the east of Portland -- the sunrise comes up over it each morning reminding us of the beauty that brought each of us to the Northwest. You'll see a ton of morning Mt. Hood shots of my own in this photo set. 30 Years. Who would have known. Even in this day and age of i-EVERYTHING, Facebook, Twitter and all of the others that there would still remain this sleeping giant beneath us.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Soul of the Matter

Kia Soul, to be exact. The Special Edition Ghost Kia Soul, to be even more precise. I have nothing more to say. Except that it wasn't my fault. I am the victim. And, no, it isn't white. I think it's new name is Casper. And he was one of only 1,000 or so released in the United States. I guess there are only 999 left. Here's a nifty click-n-drag picture for giggles.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

D Check

I've just finished an entire day of being on the edge of tears. With my eyes welling up over and over. I've said it before, I think it's my time of the month. In spite of my hard, crusty exterior you'll find that I have a soft and squish interior -- at least in part. Imagine, me having feelings. Ha!

If you don't know what a D Check is, it's an aircraft term. All aircraft go through A, B, C, and D checks at various hours in their takeoff/landing cycles. It's like maintenance for your car required at certain times. All of our flight attendants are being offered this very cool pump-you-up day-long session. It's a course designed by flight attendants, for flight attendants. It's held off site, not at work. No management. No supervisors. No company talk. No bad mouthing. No nothing. It's just not like that. It's as much for one's own insides as one's outsides. It's about affirming me. Myself. No matter what job I'm actually doing for a living.

The class was designed around the book How Full Is Your Bucket? We are all at our best when our bucket is full. And we are all at our worst when our bucket is empty. The question was asked over today, who is filling your bucket? Who is adding to it? And, vice versa, who is taking away from your bucket? Who sucks the life out of you? Who is your cheerleader? Who is not?

Lots of questions. Lots of affirmation. Lots of attention to the details of one's life. And, right now, my life has some questions about it. Not bad. Not a downer. Nothing like that. Just questions. Introspection and all of that. LoverBoy and I are chatting about how to make our lives better. About how to make sure that we are both being all there is to one another. About making sure that I'm filling his bucket. And not taking away from his bucket. And, honestly, I think we both do great jobs at affirming one another and trying to ensure that both of our needs are met. But everyone, everyone's relationship, needs a D Check once in a while.

In addition, his family issues have clearly put immense pressure on our home and lives. It's gone on for a very long time and is quite multifaceted. The fingers of its effects run deep in each of our individual lives as well as our communal life together. We both acknowledge it. And many of the issues have been brought to a good place of management, sort of. But they won't be going away anytime soon. I hope you won't think less of us for it, but we have actually had to deal with the horrible, nasty feelings of anger and hatred. At people close to us. At situations close to us. Unpleasant, I know.

So, back to today..... It's just rare that me (and probably even you) take the time to chat about such things as the buckets of our lives. And today was one of those. It just brought up emotions and feelings and such. It was right in my face all of today. And, thus, I was on the verge of tears much of today. I shared nothing. I offered no stories or comments. The entire day. I just couldn't without breaking down. I don't think I know how deep-seated this whole family thing is. And I don't want to make this a complain about family situations sort of post. It is not. It's about me. About my reactions and responses. No one else. It's about who is adding to my life and who is taking away from it. And those, my friends, can be very difficult questions. More later.....perhaps.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dominic Monaghan Looks Like Me

So, here's how it played out:

Old Lady Passenger to Me: You really are cute.

Me: Oh, gee, do you need glasses? (A little giggle and hahaha....let's get on with the drink order, lady.)

Old Lady Passenger: You really look like Dominic Monaghan.

Me: Who is that?

Old Lady Passenger: He played in Lost and Lord of the Rings and is now working on Flash Forward.

Me: Oh. (You'll quickly find that I know next to zero about mainstream TV, movies and actors).

So, here he is -- Dominic Monaghan
. I can see the resemblance. What I need is the fame and fortune rather than the resemblance. And further more, I'm older. So, in all actuality, he looks like me.....I don't look like him.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Provincetown Bear Week 2010

Ggrrrrr.....it's fast approaching! Provincetown Bear Week 2010 will be held July 10-18. This will be our second year to attend. You'll recall my Bear Week 2009 and the photos. We were invited by friends to join them last summer and, honestly, wondered how we would fit in with this sort of bearish group......what would it be like, what would we spend our time doing, would we like being jammed into a small town with thousands of bears? But, unequivocally, the answers were positive and clear. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. We fit in perfectly (LoverBoy more than me....I'm much more of an otter than a bear). No, wait, now that I'm looking at the definition of an otter, I'm not really that either....unless you count my hairy forearms and legs..... oh, hell, I don't know what I am, quite frankly. If you aren't familiar with the bear subculture of the gay community, check it out here. We spent the week in a large house rented with ten great guys. We rose when we wanted to each morning, hung around in our jammies, boxers, or less for coffee and spent our days eating, touring, enjoying any of the many Bear Week events, met a ton of new friends, and went to a few parties around town. Probably one of the week's most fun times happens each afternoon at 4pm at the Boat Slip.....the Tea Dance! What a great couple of hours to relax, chat, drink, and enjoy looking out at the Provincetown Harbor with a thousands other handsome men.

So, a bear or not, think about it. I swear, it's a great week of good times and plenty of nice folks.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Time Flies

My buddy Alan and his husband are about to be married! He recently did a post on "Long Ago, Not So Far Away" wherein he recalled all of the many things that had, or had not, happened in his own relationship over the past nine years. It's amazing how, in such a short amount of time, things can change. To piggyback on Alan's post, I've created my own:

Near 13 years ago when I met LoverBoy:

** We had no mobile phones.
** We had no television.
** We had a 1992 Pontiac Grand Am...2 door, sporty little thing.
** Our first apartment cost us $600 a month.
** We earned $17K a year when we first got together.
** I had never been to a nude beach when I met him.
** 9-11 had not happened yet.
** We slept on the floor on a futon mattress when we first met.
** We ate our meals on an overturned laundry basket while sitting on the floor.
** His father was still alive.
** His parents did not live in the same town as we did.
** There was no American Idol or Facebook or Twitter when we met.
** Bill Clinton was still President when we met.
** Neither of us had a blog or website yet.
** We did not own a computer.
** He had never traveled to Europe -- now he's been three times.
** There was no iPhone.
** We hadn't met most of the friends we have today.
** We didn't have a Pooch -- and I swore we never would.
** We hadn't had our first argument yet.
** We hadn't yelled or cried together yet.
** I never thought he'd still be in my life today.
** We had never been on a cruise -- now we've been on three.

I suppose the list could go on an on. Suffice it to say that time passes swiftly....rapidly. Without notice or fanfare, it disappears behind us each day with the sun's setting.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

It's That Time of the Year

It's that time of the year, when the world falls in love, every song you hear seems to say Merry Christmas...... No, wait, I'm a little off kilter here......uh, let's see....... oh yeah...what I meant to say was that it's getting to be that time of year when one's mind wanders. Gently and gracefully. Casually, nearly. To THIS. I created this map last summer with instructions on how to get to either of Portland's two clothing-optional beaches. And you may remember my earlier writings about how I ever came to be a clothing-optional sort of guy in the first place. And if you're a true member of the Pacific Northwest, you'll start to think about these sorts of things when the temperature stretches toward, oh say, around 60 or so. I mean, a warm 60. Not the cloudy, cold and wet 60. And 70, for sure, is beach weather. Although 75-80 is my favorite. My beach backpack is ready to roll -- sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a towel. I typically take a snack -- crackers and cheese, peanut butter sandwich, carrots, chips, or something like that. Plus a huge bottle of water and a diet soda. Rarely, do I drink at the beach. I'm usually one of the first ones at the beach.....especially on weekdays, which is when I typically go. I'm there close to 10-11am. It's quiet, warm. And I get my first choice of parking spaces! The ships go up and down the Columbia River on their way to the Pacific Ocean. And the breeze blows the trees around -- which is one of my all-time favorite sounds. In fact, there is this one cozy little particular spot that we like to sit in. A bit of shade. A bit of sun. And this bush that shades the spot has one little teeny tiny leaf on it that makes this peculiar little clicking noise when the breeze blows it......over and over. We've heard it for years now.

So, don't be shy, the time is coming. Join me if you're in the Portland area. Or, for all of my Seattle friends, come on down.....as Bob Barker would say.