Ordinary? Extra! Usual? Un.

Tomorrow—well, technically today—I am heading back home to San Francisco, and while I am very much looking forward to being in my own home and in that most special of Cities where the sun powers me and the moon seems to hang from the dome of sky almost within reach, I find myself wishing.

Wishing that twelve days didn’t zip by so fast here with my family. Wishing that I had more time to spend in New York with Jennie and Tney! and JMG and the rest of the wonderful folks I got to meet or to see again. Wishing that here and there were just plain Here. That all of the people I love were within driving distance. That stopping by my brother Sam’s house was as simple as firing up iChat. That touch could be communicated via TCP or UDP. That this country were not so big.

I will admit that my own sense of habit and sense of center have had me bounding, in the past, for the City after being away from it for any length of time. I would keep one foot firmly on the terra not-so-firma of San Francisco, emotionally, and wherever I was—and not who was around me—was simply “away”.

But this time? Maybe it’s a lack of habit because of the accident and the disability. Maybe it’s the recent breakup of a relationship that I desperately had wanted to work out and be forever. Maybe the climb has been too steep for too long and I’ve hit a stall-point. Or maybe all of our virtual worlds overlap so much and have become so commonplace that these real-world visits serve to illustrate all the dimensions of living that we miss, all those extra colors of the rainbow that we forget we can see.

I love my family very much, even when we fight and sometimes especially when we fight—because I know I can express myself and they can express themselves and no matter the volume or the temper, it is an absolute given that we all love each other and that will never change.

That’s really all I’ve ever wanted out of my friendships and my relationships: to be sure of the others. I’m sure of my family and I’m certainly sure and surely certain of myself. I’m hopeful that I will see my family members again, in person, sooner rather than later. And I know that the only way to be sure of anything is to stop wishing and start doing.

As Marie would occasionally say whenever one of us would start a sentence with I wish…: Wish in one hand; shit in the other. See which one gets filled faster.

Tact is for strangers; politesse for opponents. Candor? That’s family. Where wishing just gets in the way of having.

And I have the best family any man could ask for.

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Can I Get an “And”?

Will Al Gore run for office? Will Hillary?

I say both! They should run against each other in the primaries. Get a big pitched battle going, get the country’s majority choosing the better of two who are better than Bush or any Republican. Get the issues out and argued over. Get as much airtime as possible. Own the agenda. Set a progressive against a neo-centrist.

Then, whoever wins obviously becomes the Democratic Presidential candidate, while the other automatically gets added to the ticket as the VP candidate.

All that discourse, all the tilting at progressive issues, all the versus-ing going on all fold in together and back a team of candidates they can love.

And who can win.

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Drunk on Superlatives

From time to time, Marie joneses for QVC. Yes, cable television shopping. That QVC. So I’m sitting here chatting with Sweet Baby James and Tney and Hottie McHott (aka David M.) and my favorite crazy Cuban, here in the “TV Room” of the ancestral home while my mom and dad watch QVC. I am absorbing the hard sales pitches osmotically. Qvc LogoIn the 30 minutes this has been going on, I’ve learned of an ultra-concentrated cleaning solution you attach to a garden hose. It’s safe for plants, they say, but they dodged the question about pets. Hmmm. I’ve also learned about telescoping, ratcheting pruning shears that are your “best friend!” in the garden. I’m guessing that the oak tree that they’re clipping branch after branch from isn’t too crazy about the shears as a friend. Friends don’t let friends delimb them. I’m just sayin’.

I’ve also learned about a hexagonal, one-piece, click-in-place gazebo. It’s today’s special value. It comes with a carrying bag and it weighs only 31 lbs in the bag! 110 sq feet of space. Can you imagine? How are you living without one? I don’t have the yard space back in San Francisco, but I’m considering putting one in my own TV room—then I won’t have to repaint the ceiling.

Good lord, I have to go. The “Diamonique Afternoon Delight” show has started! For “two fabulous hours” I’ll learn about fabricated, simulated diamonds—including colored ones! OMG a 3.35 carat (total weight) canary diamonique ring is available!

I feel like Penguin Opus ordering cases of Tomato Crushers.

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How Soon Is Now?

Being “Back Home” (as opposed to At Home—the Germans are so much better at grammar) is seriously fucking with my Timesense. It’s not a bad thing, just as every “being fucked” isn’t a bad thing. It’s just taking me out for a serious spin, is all.

I was driving my nephew Nick back to his father’s house, which is in what we all thought of as the “rich section” of town back in the day, which is also the house that my great Aunt Ann and Uncle George lived in until a year ago. It’s a small town: it doesn’t need San Francisco’s magical air to syncretize the world.

Anyway, I took a right hand turn at where the Hoagie Bar used to be (I would suck at giving directions around here) and headed up through New Goss Manor, what used to pass for an upscaled housing development and, I suppose, still is (when you’ve lived with San Francisco housing prices, the price of any house in this area seems expressed in Monopoly® money). I was relaying to Nick that coincidentally, a bunch of girls that I went to High School with lived in this part of “the manor”. As I said this, I noticed an 18 yr old girl (or thereabouts…what do I know about girls, much less teen girls?) with her hair in a ponytail and she was sitting on the front lawn of one of the houses.

And for a moment, I looked more closely to see if she was someone I was in school with.

I didn’t tell Nick that, for fear of scaring him that someone so enfeebled was driving a car with him in it, but I did start to laugh. I suppose that was worse, for the look he gave me.

I find it rather effortless to slip into forgetting When I am. I’ve noted this before on these pages. This was more…immersive. I zipped past Laura Shelby’s house…then Laura Wright’s and Helene Harris’ houses and still thought they might be home. To the right was where Lisa Mikulis lives (not lived, lives). Lisa was my Junior Prom date (it was a pleasant and platonic evening, in case you were wondering andIknowyouweren’t).

The Alarm once sang: “Memories come flooding back, the bitter pain and disappointment…”, but that was never me. I suppose with considerable effort I could muster bitterness for not having had any way in which to come out of the closet. Hell, it was so Normal here that I didn’t even know I was in a closet. The whole fucking place was a cultural closet. Homosexuals lived elsewhere and weren’t Good Catholic Boys. Lest you think this is written in anger, I’m merely trying to impress upon y’all that there weren’t heterosexuals, either. There just were People Who Grew Up And Got Married And Had Children. “Got Married”. That’s why so many people don’t want same-sex couples included in “marriage”, methinks. The taking-for-grantedness of Life’s Rich And Fully Anticipated Pageantry is at stake, you flaunting-it poncyboys and prisondykes.

Ahhh, I kid the stereotypes.

This is the way it goes today, at least in my family: as I was pulling away from my brother’s house in my Mom & Dad’s (Jack & Marie’s) Chevy Malibu Maxx—nice car, by the way—I asked Nick if he wanted to go see X3 with me. He asked his dad and his dad said, “as long as you’re home by 7”. Nick responded, “That’s gay.”

My response? “That’s ok, so am I!” Nick turns bright red. My brother is laughing so hard he almost falls over. Jessica laughs and shakes her head. “But I’m the good kind of gay,” I added, and drove off.

From the responses I’ve gotten to the recent post about my family, I know how lucky I am to have such an amazing family—not just for their healthy (read: low) prioritization of sexual orientation as a conscious element in our lives, but for everything. My family is a communal being sometimes, and certain currents of thought and emotion form its bloodstream. It’s a creature you’d want to know. It’s kind and it’s generous and it loves without limit. It’s the Cleavers in color but without the hubris and the lies.

It’s that part of here and now that was there and then and will be alive forever.

There’s god-enough for me. And immortality is just the always-now.

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Yet Another Music Meme

Meme from Sam:

…that reminds you of an ex:<br/> Such Great Heights by The Postal Service

…that makes you cry: Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

…that reminds you of your childhood: Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque by The Partridge Family

…that reminds you of high school: The Stroke by Billy Squier

…that mirrors you too closely: The Longest Time by Billy Joel

…that makes you laugh: Gett Off by Prince

…that will always get you up to dance: Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

…that you used to hate, but now love: Can’t Get You Out of My Head by Kylie Minogue

…that you love but wouldn’t know of if it weren’t for a friend: Theme from Valley of the Dolls by k.d. lang

…that you like from your parents’ collection: Fly Me To The Moon by Frank Sinatra

…that makes you think of sex: Lovesexy by Prince

…that is your anthem: Downtown by Petula Clark (or Mary Chapin Carpenter)

…that is your ultimate love song: Move On by Bernadette Peters & Mandy Patinkin (music by Stephen Sondheim)

…that reminds you of something nasty: Any House music overly deconstructed and propped up by Steve Mueller

…that reminds you of a break-up: Somewhere Only We Know by Keane

…that makes you think of your friends: Any 80s alternative music, including industrial and techno

…that is held between you and a friend: Scenes from an Italian Restaurant by Billy Joel

…that would be your choice for a national anthem: War Is Release by The Toll

…that changed your life in some pragmatic way: Put On Your Sunday Clothes by Carol Channing & Original Cast of Hello Dolly!

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Family Photos

Most of us have a strong sense of the family we were born into. Some of us (like me) feel incredibly lucky for the family we have.

Many of us gay men and women also have a sense of family—a chosen family. Even Marie understands this point: not long after Allen and I became a couple way back when, she sent me a sweatshirt that said “A Family is a group of people who love each other.”

And that’s the definition I like best, because it includes everyone.

I have decided to hang out with my family back here in Pennsylvania for a few days longer, because I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like with my family in a given year.

Oh, and it’s Jack and Marie’s 45th Wedding Anniversary today.

Family

My Awesome Family<br/><br/>

Mikeyandjennie-1

Mikey and Jennie<br/><br/>

Edgarandjeff

Edgar and Me (and Nikko!)<br/><br/>

Momanddad

Jack and Marie back in High School

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Pat’s Milkshake is Better Than Yours

Pat Robertson has a Jesus- age defying shake available here. It’s just too fucking weird.

Did you know that if you replace “milkshake” with “Jesus”, you mostly end up with a song about Pat Robertson and his Church Empire 700 Club? No, it’s true! Here:

[Repeat x2]<br/> My milkshake Jesus brings all the boys to the yard,<br/> And they’re like<br/> It’s better than yours,<br/> Damn right it’s better than yours,<br/> I can teach you, <br/> But I have to charge<br/> <br/> I know you want it, <br/> The thing that makes me, <br/> What the guys go crazy for.<br/> They lose their minds, <br/> The way I wind,<br/> I think it’s time<br/> <br/> [Chorus x2]<br/> La la-la la la,<br/> Warm it up.<br/> Lala-lalala,<br/> The boys are waiting<br/> <br/> My milkshake Jesus brings all the boys to the yard,<br/> And they’re like<br/> It’s better than yours,<br/> Damn right it’s better than yours, <br/> I can teach you, <br/> But I have to charge<br/> <br/> I can see you’re on it,<br/> You want me to teach thee<br/> Techniques that freaks these boys,<br/> It can’t be bought,<br/> Just know, thieves get caught,<br/> Watch if your smart,<br/> <br/> [Chorus x2]<br/> La la-la la la,<br/> Warm it up,<br/> La la-la la la,<br/> The boys are waiting,<br/> <br/> My milkshake Jesus brings all the boys to the yard,<br/> And their like<br/> It’s better than yours,<br/> Damn right it’s better than yours, <br/> I can teach you, <br/> But I have to charge<br/> <br/> Oh, once you get involved,<br/> Everyone will look this way-so,<br/> You must maintain your charm,<br/> Same time maintain your halo,<br/> Just get the perfect blend,<br/> Plus what you have within,<br/> Then next his eyes are squint,<br/> Then he’s picked up your scent,<br/> <br/> [Chorus x2]<br/> Lala-lalala,<br/> Warm it up,<br/> Lala-lalala,<br/> The boys are waiting,<br/> <br/> My milkshake Jesus brings all the boys to the yard,<br/> And their like<br/> It’s better than yours,<br/> Damn right it’s better than yours, <br/> I can teach you, <br/> But I have to charge

Isn’t that utterly, utterly creepy? However, it does explain a LOT.

Nod to skittles for the original link.

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The God of Dangerous Toys

Here at the Geisinger Medical Center Hospital, the restrooms on the second floor share a vestibule with the “GI Fellows” office. I found that funny, for some reason, and I laughed—not something you want to do in Straighty McStraightsville when you’re a man walking into the men’s restroom.

006 Photo Main Title Concepts New Marie is here for an outpatient thing-thing and I rode down with her; she’s at her appointment and I’m sitting in the hospital’s coffee shop. They have a Douwe Egberts push-button cappuccino machine and my coffee tastes appropriately….European.

Too bad all the very white, very overweight very old Americans crash that feeling. That, and there’s a rack of “choice books” in the gift “shoppe” area. You won’t be surprised that I’m thinking about trash novels, and that leads me to remember something Marie said about the “crazier” Christians out there…that people should be worrying about their own sense of decency, their own kindnesses towards others, their own souls and stop worrying about death and other people’s souls and “many Biblical scholars believe that everyone is going to Heaven”. She rules.

07280008So combine trashy novels and “crazier” Christians and what do you get? Well, my big round head cooks up the image of those scarily wildly-popular “Left Behind” novels about the Rapture and the war against the anti-Christ, etc. Reading the Book of Revelation will bake your noodle. And not in a good way.

The word I’ve come up with to describe those types was “hyper-ecstatic”, meaning craving the extreme religious-ecstasy experience. But that word sounded a lot like “super-elastic”. And, of course, if you’re older than a fetus, you would remember “Super Elastic Bubble Plastic!” Yeah, Marie wouldn’t let us have that because of the fumes it produced.

There was an old Saturday Night Live skit back in the days of the original Not Ready for Primetime Players about toy safety at Christmastime. One after the other, a sleazy Dan Ackroyd pimping ever more horribly dangerous toys, including “Bag O’ Broken Glass”.

So, anyhoo, now I have another jinked juxtapositioning: Super Elastic Bubble Plastic and the kind of people who read and believe the “Left Behind” kind of stuff. This may be where the wheels come off the wagon, but it occurred to me that for some, Religion is like Super Elastic Bubble Plastic! It’s stuff that we breathe life into such as we see fit. The surface area of the stuff expands, capturing more and more of the air and space around it. And it gives off noxious fumes that, in high enough doses, can alter one’s perception of reality. And in the end, what you got was something that was far less fun and far more ugly than advertised.

Then again, I did sneak the purchase of Super Elastic Bubble Plastic! a few times without Marie’s knowledge, played with it as directed and stopped blowing bubbles when the smell got to me. So I know first-hand how the stuff worked, but I don’t go hunting on internet specialty stores to buy it.

But if I could get my hands on a Monster Maker or a Vertibird, I’d be right there with my credit card…

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I Got Paintings On My Mind

Old home week continues.

Bet you didn’t know that when I was seven years old, my dad discovered my artistic talents, such as they were/are: he found me drawing Pluto (the Disney dog, not the planet) from an ad for an Art College in the TV guide. “Can you draw me?” Remember those?

Anyway, my parents, being no other than who they are, found a weekly art class for me. It was with Mrs. Hughes, a few miles over the mountain range near us. It went from 4pm to 6pm every Wednesday. There were from 3 to 7 students in the class. I learned basic color theory—something that equipped me to confidently disagree with something one of my high school teachers was trying to pass off as fact—as well as spatial theory and a host of different media (all quite analog).

Anyhoo, the penultimate goal was to apply all the theory and past experiences with tempera paints, watercolors, pastels (oil- and water-based) to creating oil paintings. She had genres of “compulsories” to paint, and after that, the end of the road: painting or drawing whatever you wanted, with help from her.

So I went on to paint a bunch of things, some of which—but only some, because Marie will state flatly what she likes and doesn’t like—hang in the living room of my folks’ house. I’ve snapped a few images of the paintings, which were completed by me at ages, oh, 14 through, say, 16.

Be gentle, gentle readers. (click for larger)

Dsc00704 Dsc00706 Dsc00709 Dsc00711 Dsc00714

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