Dreaming

I work for a company that purports itself to be big on diversity.

Actually, I guess I shouldn’t say it that way.  We rank 90% on the Human Rights Campaign‘s 2012 Buying for Workplace Equality guide.  The company provides Domestic Partner benefits, financial benefits for adoption services.  We allowed same-sex couples to visit their spouses in the hospital before it was federally mandated.  Our physicians are trained and encouraged to respect other cultures and their alternative belief systems in regard to medical care.  Periodically, we are required to attend sensitivity and cultural diversity awareness training.  So, I guess they are pretty big on diversity.

It is for this reason, that I find it fascinating that I AM NOT OFF WORK TODAY.  What the hell, man!?!?  I think if the mail doesn’t run and the bank is closed and kids are out of school, I should not have to work either.  Whatever.

The truth is, I think the significance of this “holiday” is lost on a lot of people, these days anyway, and as the time goes on, it will be lost on more and more people.  Not because Martin Luther King Jr. doesn’t matter.  Not because what he did for this country isn’t invaluable, but because as time goes on and we age, it’ll be harder and harder for the surviving members of our population to imagine what this country was like before MLK did his thing.

I remember learning about Martin Luther King, Jr. in school.  I remember the first time I heard the “I have a dream” speech:

I have a dream that one day…little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I looked around my classroom at the faces of the non-white boys and girls in my classroom and I thought, “how could it ever have been different.”  Certainly I was naive, but I couldn’t imagine a world where people were mistreated for their differences.  It’s funny how things change.

In my book, there’s a scene when Calvin (the lead character who is in no way based on my own existence and any similarities that may exist are entirely coincidental – *whistle, whistle, whistle*) has gone home to visit his family for Thanksgiving.  His sister Haley picks him up from the airport and as they are chatting on the way to their mother’s house, she tells him she’s dating a black man and “mom doesn’t know.”  It was something Calvin should not, and would not want to, tell their mother.

In reality, my sister did briefly date a black man in college and she never told my mother he was black, largely because of her reaction when our older brother dated a black woman when he was in college.  Our mother insisted, and for the most part, I really do believe, that she is not prejudice, that she doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with interracial relationships, she would just rather her children not engage in them “because of the hardships you’ll endure because of them.”  The fact that my brother’s girlfriend was also, “a witch” and that her brother turned out to be gay (while attending a Christian University), were certainly not points in her favor…

I can’t help but wonder what my mother’s reaction would be if I ended up married to a black man.  Would that be two strikes against him, or has even she progressed enough not to care about race any longer.  The fact that he would be male, would be problem enough for her.

Anyway, a world where black people were not treated as a welcome and equal member of society was just unimaginable to me in my naive, teen years.  I didn’t think discrimination existed in this country any longer…  And then I realized I was gay and it was a whole new ballgame.  But that’s a different story.

I knew my commute would be light today and I was glad for that; I was running late yet again!  As I rounded the corner to the parking garage entrance I thought how nice it will be for the garage not to be so full for once.  Once again, naiveté rears its ugly head.  Nobody parks in this garage but employees of the company for which I work.  Today is not a holiday at the company for which I work.  The garage was as full as ever.

At lunch, I had two errands to run; buy cat food and pick up a library book that’s on hold for me at the branch by my house, four miles away.  I bought the cat food first, three miles in the opposite direction…

So like I was saying, if the mail doesn’t run and the bank is closed and kids are out of school and the library is closed, I should not have to work either.

Whatever.

What is the Deal

Watch this video from my favorite Christmas movie.  Don’t worry, it’ll open in a separate window.  I tried to embed it but the person who posted this set it up so it couldn’t be embedded and it was the only clip I could find with the crucial line in it.  If you don’t have much time, skip ahead and watch from 3:03 to about 3:30.  (Thanks a lot, Christmas Dave for ruining the flow of my blog post.)

Go over to YouTube and watch the clip.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  I’ll be here when you get back.

Finished?  Great.  Now allow me to branch off into a seemingly completely unrelated topic, only to loop it all back around in then end…

I’ve got a bit of seemingly minimal crap going on in my life.  But of course, “a bit” of seemingly minimal crap can pile on and amount to one big pile of smelly, unpleasant…  stress.

The apartment I have lived in for the last four years has only one built-in source of heat.  It’s a small, gas-burning fireplace with asbestos (probably not asbestos) logs that glow when hot to make it look like they’re on fire.  The flame itself only resembles a smoulder and offers no ambiance to my apartment.  The fireplace gets pretty hot right where it is and according to “them” is supposed to be sufficient to heat my whole apartment.  In reality, it s about 85 degrees at the fireplace and about 65 degrees 8 feet away.  Plus, the fir place puts off an obnoxious odor that gives me a headache.  I choose not to use the fireplace and in the meantime, it is freezing in my apartment.

Yesterday I went to the Orthodontist for what was supposed to be my take-my-braces-off appointment.  Last month, the younger Dr. Tinloy (it’s a father and son practice) told me to pay close attention to my teeth over the next month and see if there was anything else I felt needed to be corrected and this month we’d talk about taking the braces off.  Realizing that literal perfection is not a possibility at my age, without extraction and implants, I’m pretty happy with the way my teeth look these days, but I did notice that the back teeth on the bottom are not in-line with the rest of my teeth.  I didn’t know if it really mattered, or if it was worthwhile (or even possible) to try to correct, but I didn’t want to look back on this experience in a couple of years and wish I had stuck it out and gotten those last two teeth straightened out.  When I pointed this out to the older Dr. Tinloy yesterday, he agreed that it could be done and even said he did think it was worthwhile.  So here I sit with braces still on my teeth and in some respects tighter than they’ve ever been.  I’m aware that after only one year and nearly finished I’m better off than most and my threshold for pain is pretty high so I haven’t had a lot of discomfort, but they’re a hassle and I’m ready to have them off.  In the end though, I chose to continue with the process and finish what I started.

Some time in the last month or so, some ne’er-do-wells managed to sneak some contraptions into the self-service check stands at several of the local Lucky’s grocery stores.  These contraptions record and somehow transmitted or conveyed the information from customer’s credit cards to the ne’er-do-wells who have been using the information fraudulently and causing a lot of trouble and heartache for the owners of those cards and the banks they’re attached to.  Sadly, I frequent two of those Lucky’s grocery stores and while, fortunately, I have not been a victim of any identity theft, or bank fraud, my bank, proactively, decided to cancel my debit card because I shopped at those stores.  They sent a replacement, which I received yesterday, but for several days I was without access to my money…

This was not as much of a hardship as it could have been, because, well…  I really don’t have any money.  I have $38.00 in the bank until payday which is this Friday.  I need to do Christmas shopping (soon, since most of my gifts are going out of state) and I have bills that are coming due soon, but for the moment, I’m OK, financially speaking.  Still $38.00 isn’t much and I would certainly prefer to have more money just hanging around…  I suppose we could all say that, though, no matter how much we actually have “hanging around.”

For a few weeks, ever since the very sniffly, coughy, non-hand-washy DMV worker, I’ve been struggling with cold-like symptoms.  First it was a couple of weeks of running nose and sniffles.  Then just as that was dwindling away, I started coughing… TWO. WEEKS. LATER.  The cough has persisted.  It’s not constant, though it is a nuisance.  It’s not productive and despite my best efforts it’s not offering any kind of relief to the irritation that causes it in the first place.  While I have not been short of breath, I have had a hard time getting a full, deep breath and when I try, it just makes me cough some more.  Also, after nearly three weeks of coughing, I have muscular pain in my chest and back when I cough.  Monday, I finally broke down and called my health care provider.  I wasn’t sure there was any point in me going in – I don’t go to the doctor for the common cold…  though maybe I should.  After a conversation with an “Advice Nurse” it was determined that I could probably make do with a “phone appointment” and a little while later, I spoke with a doctor who, after discussing my symptoms said, “it sounds like you’ve got bronchitis” and proceeded to put in three prescriptions for me; two inhalers and one bottle of pills.  Now, what I’m about to say is going to sound really ungrateful, so let me just specify that I KNOW I’m luckier than many people when it comes to health care coverage and yet, even for me, an employee of my healthcare provider, costs have gone up.  Everything is relative and compared to the coverage I used to have – $5.00 for prescriptions and $0.00 for everything else – the increased expenses suck.

Remember that my ATM/Debit card was cancelled and I did not have access to the $38.00 in the bank.  I happened to have very full jars of change on my dresser which I took to a coinstar machine and cashed in.  It gave me enough cash that I should have been able to get through this week without any fears of running out of lunch money.  My three prescriptions on Monday night cost me $45.00 and I had to pay another $1.00 for parking.  I had $49.00 cash in my pocket.  Suddenly, I didn’t have any more money for the week.

Monday, I reminded K of a task she needed to complete for me this week.  It’s a task that will take her all of 20 minutes to complete and normally she wouldn’t have to do it right now, but she’s on vacation next week and I’m taking another two weeks stay-cation starting at Christmas.  What she needs to do for me needs to be done and announced before I go on vacation, therefore, she needs to do it this week.  Her response?  “See this is why I asked you last week if there was anything else I owed you.”  After thinking of a number of less friendly things to say, I simply said, “You’re welcome,” and left it at that.  I chose not to make her attitude, my problem.

Yesterday, I had about an hour and a half between my Orthodontist appointment and my bi-weekly appointment with Deb and while I was at home I had a thought that caught me a little by surprise and when I expressed the thought to Deb, “With all this stuff going on, I’m not stressed out about it.  I’m doing just fine,” I got a mental picture of The Grinch in the scene above…

To paraphrase a little bit, “I’ve got all this crap going on, and I’m fineWhat is the DEAL?!?!?”

I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself

I don’t often publish unoriginal material on my blog.  I also, don’t often publish political material on my blog, though it has been known to happen.

I just read this article on DaveRamsey.com and had to share it.  Dave Ramsey is a financial guru with his own radio show and books and stuff.  One of my all time favorite bill boards is one on 5th street, in Oakland.  It’s for Dave’s radio show and features a huge picture of Dave’s mug and the tag line says, “Act your wage!”  I think that’s brilliant.  A few years ago, I read a book by Dave called The Total Money Makeover.  It changed my life.  It would change my life more, but I haven’t done a really good job of following it’s recommendations.

Anyway, Dave has some comments regarding the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and the off shoots that have sprouted up around the country and while I have not said anything about them because I have nothing nice to say, this article from Dave’s website helped to put into polite and friendly words, all the things I’ve been thinking for weeks but couldn’t think of a nice way to say.

Here is a link to the original article.

By Dave Ramsey

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Yeah, that’s great. But what do you want? What are your goals? What are your demands? What result are you looking for?

The beauty of being vague is that anyone who has any emotion can get caught up in the excitement and join your crusade. They’ll just get mad at something and assume that you’re both mad about the same thing. Put a few hundred of these people together, and boom. You’ve got a crowd, a headline and a lot of attention … but no message.

A lot of people on Twitter are saying I totally agree with the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) demands and goals. The only problem is that I have no idea what their demands and goals are. And neither does anyone else.

The Hardest (And Most Important) Thing I’ve Ever Done

Have you seen this?

Karin and I talked about it the other day.  She said it brought a tear to her eye.

I said, “hmmmm.”

“Didn’t do anything to you?” she asked.

It didn’t.  As we know, I’m not quick to emotional reactions to things.

But I admit, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  And I watched it again, that day.

And again the next day.  And several times since then.  I don’t really know how to explain how the video affected me, but it did affect me.

On Sunday, I sent the following e-mail to my sister:

I don’t think it will come as a surprise to you to know that when I think about our family, you are the person who means the most to me (well, you and your kids.)  You are the ones that I care the most about.  And you are the ones that I would most hate to lose.

Because of this, I have felt for some time that if I was ever going to share what I am about to share, you would be the one I needed to tell first.

I hope that what I’m going to tell you won’t change things (though I imagine it will), but for the last two years, ever since I asked you if you and David had a guardianship decision in place for your children, I have felt like it was only right for you to know this…

In the next few days I’m going to send the following e-mail to mom.  For the most part, though, I wanted to say all the same things to you… just… first.  Here goes…

There is something I have wanted to tell you for a long time, but I’ve been too afraid of how you would react.

It has seemed like it’s been more important not to upset or offend you, than it has been to be honest with you.  But now, somehow that seems wrong; it doesn’t seem fair to you and it is certainly not fair to me.

I want you to know that I love you very much, and it is because I love you that it has been so hard for me to tell you that I am gay.

I’m not going to drag this out.  I know you don’t approve.  I know you think it’s wrong and all I can say to that is that I did a lot of soul-searching, research and praying in the process of coming to terms with this for myself and I did not arrive at this conclusion easily or take it lightly.  I believe that I am right with God.  I do not believe that to be gay is a sin, an “abomination”, or that he will condemn me for it.  While I know you strongly believe that your perspective is the right one, I strongly believe that mine is and I’ve finally reached a point where I’m ready to accept that we will disagree on that.

I know that you are disappointed.  You’re hurt and you’re probably angry.  I’m sorry for that.  I know that this is something that you’re going to need some time to get used to.  I wish this were easier for both of us.  I only hope that you can still love me and show me that love, in spite of this disappointment.  That will be for you to decide, though.

For the record, I still want to be your children’s designated guardian, but I realize I’ve just made it a much tougher decision…

I love you.

~~~~~

I sent the e-mail to my sister around 6:00 yesterday evening hoping she would e-mail a response.  I put the computer down and went about doing some household chores.  About 30 minutes later, she called me, but I didn’t answer the phone.

I hoped she would send a response via e-mail since I didn’t answer the phone, but she did not.

Around 10:30 last night, when it was clear I would get no response from my sister that night and before I could change my mind and wimp out, I sent the e-mail to my mother.  I knew she wouldn’t see it before this morning and while I hoped she, too, would e-mail a response and not telephone me, as of now, I’ve not heard from her at all.  While I realized it’s possible she simply hasn’t seen the e-mail, the much more likely answer (and what I should have anticipated to start with) is that she won’t acknowledge it for a couple of days while she “mulls over” the “correct response.”

Erin called me again this morning, first my cell phone, then my work number.  She finally left a message on my work phone in which she said she wasnt’s sure she still had right numbers for me since she hadn’t reached me, that she had received my e-mail and that she wanted to “visit” with me so I should give her a call when I had time.

I sent her a text message and said, “Call me a wimp, but for the moment, I would rather have you say what you have to say in writing.  I don’t regret telling you, but you can’t begin to imagine how difficult this is for me.”

Her response was, “So does that mean you are ignoring my calls?”  😎

“Some of them.  Others I wasn’t around for,” I said.

To which she replied, “Wimp!   OK, I’ll e-mail you as soon as I can.”

~~~~~

The tone of her texts suggests playfulness (trust me, this is her being playful), but her message on voice mail was less than comforting.  She didn’t say anything about loving me, or not being particularly surprised, or anything remotely encouraging or supportive.

I have to believe that this is not a surprise to either of them, though maybe not what they wanted to hear.  But I also know that, whether they accept it or not, this was the right thing to do.  I’m pretty wrecked over the whole thing right now, but I know that once the initial storm blows over, I’ll feel much better for having done it…

Blow storm, blow!

Speaking Too Soon

As if in answer to my complaint, yesterday, that my sister was having all the fun, mother nature decided fair’s fair at about 11:30 last night.

20110824-125850.jpg

See that star? Yeah, that’s roughly where my house is.

Now lest ye be worried, this was only a 3.6. Hardly more than a little joy ride!

Weeeeeee!!!!