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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.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One More Time

Tomorrow we'll be in Seattle. Again. This will mark our 12th Annual Recurrent Training. Flight attendants, and pilots, are required to do it. Required to achieve a particular score on the written test. Required to open aircraft doors and windows, shout evacuation commands, practice CPR and other first aid techniques, learn more about security and hazardous materials, check out the latest in bomb-making ideas, practice crew communication with pilots, refine our fire-fighting skills, review our water/raft procedures, etcetcetcetc..... (Did you see anything in there about pouring coffee, serving drinks, or carry-on bags??...Nope, I didn't think so...it's the least of our worries.)

Here's a horribly entertaining look at what one flight attendant had to say about her annual Recurrent. And here's a bit more technical, and boring, look at what lies underneath the pretty polyester uniforms. We are good people, we really are. Odd and strange, but good people. And you just never know what sort of strange situations you'll find yourself in from day to day.

We have a lot of fun but, honestly, sitting in a classroom all day long reminds me of exactly why I love my job -- getting out and about, no desk to sit behind, no phones to answer. I like the energy and (mostly) good times had by all. So, that's tomorrow.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I've written in the past about my misgivings about Facebook. Oh, I know....it's the tell-all, be-all trendy deal that has taken the world by storm. I don't disagree with you there. But I'm not happy with it and haven't been for a bit. I enjoy some of the connections, some of the interaction, some of the way it has actually crafted my life...... Did you hear me? The way IT has crafted MY life. Rather than the way I have crafted my own life. It has taken over. And right now my life is feeling a bit out of control and a sort of unhappy place to be. So, I'm sending my relationship with Facebook on hiatus. Temporarily, perhaps. Permanently, probably not. But when she comes back, she must be a different girl than she was before.

I don't like having the same GINORMOUS group of friends as everyone else. In spite of the amazing group of people that I call my personal friends, I like my own people, my own friends and relationships. I don't like that every person in the world that I'm friends with have to also be friends with all of my friends. That's weird to me.

I don't like every single one of my FBF (Facebook Friends) knowing every damned thing about my entire life. I am definitely not that kind of guy. I like privacy, and quiet, and alone time.

I don't like having to say NO to family members or friends when they send me Friend Requests. I've asked. I've had to explain. I've had to put a sort of disclaimer or warning on my FB page. That I only ever wanted to have actual friends who are that....friends. I know a ton of people. That's my job. But simply because I know someone does not, in my own mind, mean I have to be their friend on FB. And that has become difficult. There are people on my FB friends list that I would never choose to spend time with or have relationships with outside of FB. I have family members on my list that have nothing in common with me. Why? I have friends on my list who are simply co-workers with me, not friends. Why? I have people who want to be my friends simply because they are my partner's friends....and vice versa. Why? Or why when someone becomes a friend of mine, they feel it is automatically necessary to send an immediate request to my partner? I have numerous people who are my friends on FB that I have "hidden" so that I don't have to read their posts or because I may owe them an explanation if I defriended them. Why? And then there are the stalkers....those who have zero interactive skills and never/rarely comment or are active. I just don't have time for that.

I also miss spending more time on my own blog than I used to. Facebook and Twitter have definitely taken their toll on the blogging world. I miss reading other's sites. And I miss having them read mine. I feel pressured and always in a hurry. I don't write much any longer, along with all of my former blogging friends. I feel pressured to put something out. And I don't like the shallowness, the cheapness, of Facebook. Its like a blip on the giant, complex sea of life.

It just doesn't all add up. It is strange. I don't want it to be a place about work, or bitching, or listening to chit chat about changing baby diapers. I know, I know....its a private, personal sort of thing and that I have complete control over who I have as friends and don't. But as easy as that is to say, it is a bit more complicated. So, for now at least, I'm sending Facebook away. For a break. You'll have to find me the old fashioned way via email, text, or voicemail if you're looking for me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flight Attendant Fantasies

My early morning banterings on Facebook have been a bit of a walk down memory lane for me and my buddy Johnny. He and I were flight attendants back at our very first airline in Boise in 1995 or so. We thought we were hot stuff, believe me. Making less than a thousand dollars a month and wearing polyester will make you feel that way.

Seattle was inundated with a particular snowstorm one winter -- between Christmas and New Year's. Nothing went anywhere for days. Finally, at the end of the third day, Johnny and I were the flight attendants on the very first flight to Seattle in three days. Yay! But you see the problem was this -- that we ended up in a million feet of snow in Seattle and couldn't get out of Seattle to come back to Boise. It was piled up to the nose of the Fokker F-28 (like the one in the picture above only with way more snow piled up to its wings and nose). We were flying with two extremely hot pilots (who Johnny and I both had the secret HOTS for....shh, don't tell anybody). Our captain called operations, dispatch, airport people, airline people, and the Pope himself in order to get us towed down to the Delta Airlines hanger at the south end of the SeaTac Airport. They towed us into this big, huge giant hanger all by ourselves......to thaw. To melt. The ice was so thick on the plane. But somewhere in the midst of this deal, we came up with the idea to use these big, giant squeegee sort of things with rubber on them to try and pull the snow and ice off of the aircraft to speed up the thaw process.

All I remember is Johnny and me....on the wings of the F-28 in our uniforms and (required) black penny loafers. Seriously, standing on the wings in the snow with these huge squeegee things.....pulling and pushing snow and ice onto the ground. It was so slick! We worked up a huge sweat along with the two (hot) pilots. We must have been at this for several hours. We would reach up from the wing up as far as we could on our tip-toes to drag the snow down from the fuselage of the airplane. At the end of this ordeal, our captain called and told operations that we were ready to be towed back for our flight back to Boise. "Oh no," they told us, "there are no flights operating tonight...you're stuck here for the night." But Young Handsome Captain Man would have nothing to do with it. He talked, he coerced, he chatted, he arranged -- for the four of us to actually work the very first flight out of Seattle back to Boise in three days. The airline had not been accepting any checked bags from passengers for days. Every passenger trudged out from the terminal in many feet of snow with their checked baggage. They stacked up a hundred or more bags by the front stairs in the snow. Somehow, we had rampers (the guys who do all of the millions of thankless chores on the ground) load those wet bags into the belly of our F-28.....and away we went. Hours and hours late and well after midnight.

Johnny and I both remarked this morning that we are pretty sure no flight attendants in history have participated in such a stunt before. Just us. In our penny loafers. With the hot pilots.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Hateful Revisited

On today's Oprah Show, she returned to Williamson, West Virginia...a town where she did a local show 23 years ago, in 1987. One of the town's local residents, young Mike Sisco had AIDS. Mike and his sisters went to the local swimming pool on a hot summer day and he got into the pool. The pool cleared out. People left by the droves. Remember...1987, West Virginia, AIDS.....very few people had a clue...let alone in West Virginia. So, back in 1987 Oprah went to Williamson and did a show where all of the old included clips here are recorded. And today, Oprah was back in Williamson. Visiting with members of the audience that day along with Mike's three sisters. It was one overly powerful hour on television. If you're gay, or know someone who is....if you have AIDS or have known someone who has, this one will strike at your deepest emotions.

Growing up in Idaho wasn't much different than West Virginia. People were hateful. Many continue to be. It used to be outward, unabashed hatefulness. Today, it tends to be cloaked in the careful picking of scripture and words and phrases and sentences that don't play on soundbites quite as vehemently as they used to. But the hate still exists. I have said all along, that simply because its not legal to ask African Americans to use a separate water fountain in this day and age doesn't remove the position of one's heart. Folks in Idaho, West Virginia and many other places in our country still continue to harbor a complete disdain for those different than they are. They phrase it in such pretty sentences as "I love the sinner but hate the sin." Believe me, I'm used to hearing that sort of sentence....delivered from the pulpit while sitting in the pew listening carefully. I want you to listen to Jerry Waters back in 1987 and then listen to Jerry Waters today....one of the most vehement haters in the 1987 group who said that Mike Sisco "repulsed" him. Jerry Waters is a vile man. Even today. And speaking of repulse, his semi-sort-of apology to Mike's sisters repulsed me. He is one of those small town people with a sassy animated side to him who hates gay people.

The show continues picking out audience members who spoke way back then and interviews some of them today. Starting with Mike's three sisters, one of whom is also a lesbian, it asks such questions as "Do you regret making such hateful comments 23 years ago?" And "Do you have anything you'd like to say to Mike's sisters today?" Time does, indeed, march on. Emotions change. Knowledge comes and goes. Some attitudes evolve for the better. Some are simply not as overt as they used to be. And don't miss the video clip on Steven, the guy from California....who says that he watched the show way back in 1987. And that it encouraged him to come out. To be honest about himself. I'm thinking that this final 25th season of Oprah is going to be really powerful.

I Want To Know What Love Is

Can't stop now, I've traveled so far .......

I love this song. A lot. The opening measures with the piano send the chills right up through me. And when the choir jumps in....oh yeah, that's very much my thing. To my LoverBoy, my Pooch and my dedicated friends......for loving me.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Hero Is Missing

So I'm zeroed in on The Oprah Show today .... the premiere of her 25th, and final, season. She's always been a source of inspiration and encouraging others to make their lives great. The show opens up with John Travolta providing a toast to his friend Oprah which included these powerful words: "..... because you inject the spirit into our society of life. You care. Your intelligence, your inspiration, and you do it all without judging, and because you treat everyone equally important, and this makes you a great American hero. You represent the best of our country and what's possible in our country. But, more importantly, you are a citizen of the world, and you are a hero to mankind. So we are better for knowing you...." And I began to cry. Because I can think of about a small handful of people who would raise a glass to me and tell me that I've been a hero to them. And that makes me very very sad. Because that's what I would like for my life to be to others. I've been called a "drama queen" by a very close and dear friend and it hurts...and not in a teasing, humorous sort of way. And, perhaps, its true. I do tend to tear up easily....quite in opposition to the hard, crusty exterior that I often exude. I began to cry because those words are precisely, exactly, what I wish others thought of me. And, honestly and without digging for an overabundance of "You're my hero" comments, I feel so far, extreme distance, from anything closely related to those words.

I have always tried to be a positive person -- encourage others, listen, pass along helpful advice, encourage positive change in others, and such. But the past years of my life have me down. Quite far down at this particular point. For some of the very first times in my 48 years, I feel some fleeting, passing, moments of depression. I never, ever thought that I'd be so under appreciated for who I am as a person. I have been hurt and undervalued by those very, very close to me. And after years of it happening, it is clearly taking its toll on me. I have been spoken ill of by those who I try to help. I have been told that I have poor timing when all I was trying to do is help. My mind whirs with ideas and thoughts about how to make those around me happy. I am constantly in thought for those around me with illness, sick pets, surgeries, the passing of partners, job losses, and bank account losses. I try, I try, I try. But I've stopped. I feel like I'm wishing for something but ending up with far, far less. People tell me that I look tired regularly. I'm eating whatever I can find....far more than I need to be. And, no, I am not looking for sympathy or pats on the back. I'm simply telling you where I am today. Because you are my friends. Because I owe it to me, and to you.

I used to be a hero to some. And now I'm an enemy to some. And it doesn't make me happy. It is not how I choose to live my life but it is precisely what my life is today. 48 has never felt so much like 88.

Monday, September 06, 2010

The Spirit Collides with the Bohemian

The Labor Day holiday brings me to three days off. Umm. I can't wait. We have plenty of work to be doing over at my MIL's old apartment but I'm not sure how much of that will get done. Her other two sons will be in town this coming weekend for a visit with her -- and I think we'll just leave the packing, cleaning and arrangements of what-goes-where to them. MIL has made it clear that she's not a big fan of mine and its been bothering my head a little. In spite of my I Don't Give a Crap Policy, it only concerns me that I know how to function semi-well in combination with her and my LoverBoy. We are her lifeline to many things.

Getting up at 03:30am does something to a guy that renders him weirded out and spacey. So upon my return yesterday, I dove onto our bed for a short Sunday afternoon nap with the Pooch. I tried as best I could to drag LoverBoy with us but he's got a vehement aversion to naps. After that, we headed over to North Portland for a late summer evening's collision with the Post Apocalyptic Bohemian and the Spirit of Saint Lewis. We've been reading each others writings for a while now -- and we actually met ever so briefly last spring at Portland's Red Dress Party. But I'm a firm believer in not placing your opinions of someone in how they look in a red dress so we thought it was only appropriate to see each other in alternate apparel.

Stephen and his partner Rolfe treated LoverBoy and me to an experience that we rarely get any more....the chance to stay off of our iPhones and relax without any electronic entertainment or laptops in their unbelievably well-crafted backyard garden. We enjoyed cold cocktails and a vegetarian's orgasmic delight in their Boys' Fort....an small part of their back yard with garden couches and tables and a giant chandelier hanging from the dogwood tree overhead where the boys hang out and chat. Their entire home and yard is somewhere you could exist in quiet well in a spirit of relaxation of self-indulgent enjoyment. Cozy, quiet, horribly private with bamboo and giant old trees leaning over their property. Its quite the place. And my favorite part of the evening's conversation came when Stephen looked at me and remarked that he enjoyed reading my blog (and I sort of quote here...) "Because you're so introspective and spiritual sometimes and other times you're just a plain old bitch!" I mean, how true is that. You've gotta love the internet for allowing people that don't even know you to, well, know you. Apparently my writing has been fairly accurate. Thanks guys for allowing us into your home and for treating us so well!

We're still trying to put together the many, many pieces of our condo refinance. We still are not sure if we're going to be able to join our friends at Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco or at our other friend's birthday bash in Palm Springs. And we're working on our bids/work schedules for October. We have to do this process every single month during these few days. October brings a ton of flying to Hawaii. Its not someplace that I have any desire to work -- but I'm afraid that I am destined to fly one of those bugger trips soon. (I know, I know....I am full aware that I won't find much support when it comes to actually complaining about flying to Hawaii......believe me, I get it...its a work thing when I'd rather it were a vacation thing....).

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Both Sides Now

Take the time to listen, watch and close your eyes. Maybe you'll learn something new. I have been.

Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say, I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way
But now old friends are acting strange they shake their heads, they say
Ive changed
But somethings lost but somethings gained in living every day

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

On the Road Again

Willie Nelson said it best....On The Road Again. Today began this 5-day work week which will take me on another criss-cross of our nation's western half. PDX-SJC-AUS-SJC-PDX-SAN-SEA-AUS-SJC-PDX. And that will conclude the week.

I really should be home. Things are not all that great there. LoverBoy and me been a fightin'. MIL and me been a fightin'. LoverBoy and his Momma done been a fightin'. Things are in turmoil to say the least. And its so odd because this is not how we have run our home over the past 13 years. As of today, MIL is on Medicaid. That's what happens when any of us fail to prepare for our retirement futures. We end up giving back to the government our monthly Social Security checks in return for Medicaid taking care of our room/board/medications/nursing care in a nursing home or assisted living facility. That begins today. We're in the middle of packing up her former apartment. Her lovable old Pooch has been snatched up by a family friend -- and I miss him more than anything. LoverBoy has been on the phone many times a day and emailing back and forth with a wide variety of health care and government workers. They have been really very helpful and caring. We have begun to drive all around town looking at different facilities. The disappointing part? It doesn't matter where she ends up -- she simply won't be happy. There's always something wrong. Rarely does a visit go by that she doesn't cast a negative slant and glow on the room. Its depressing. And yesterday after witnessing her go off on a minimum-wage worker at her current care facility, I told her off good. And then marched my ass down to the front lobby -- my ears on fire, my pulse racing, my head aching, and my mouth in full gear. I've had it. Needless to say, I need to be home. For patching up with LoverBoy, for mending his broken heart, for helping do what I can to assist him. He knows I love him. Dearly. And he knows how much it doesn't make me feel good when I hurt him.

We've developed this lovely little habit of having Happy Hour each Tuesday night at one of our favorite local gay haunts Crush Bar. Their Happy Hour prices go all evening on Tuesdays so that's how the whole gig started. It feels like Cheers. Only we don't sit around the bartender. And there's no catchy song playing. It feels good. Friends do that for friends, you know. And we really need our friends right now. (Gawd, I sound like an old whiny, bitchy letch......which I hate.....).

Gotta run kids. I'm in Austin, Texas, tonight and I'm exhausted after a 3:45am wakeup this morning and a 03:30am wakeup tomorrow. I'm getting old. And I have to be happy and service people with a smile. Oh, wait, serve them with a smile may be more appropriate.