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

Please Write: ALewisPDX@gmail.com

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.