I spent Sunday afternoon with my Little Brother. We ended up going to the Maritime Museum at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. Well, technically we went to the Hyde Street Pier and not the Maritime Museum. The Museum was only open for about 45 more minutes when we got there. There are four or five historical ships permanently moored at the Hyde Street Pier and they sell tickets to board the boats for $5.00 for adults, “kids” under 16 get in free, which was kind of amazing! What’s more amazing is that the $5.00 ticket for me is good for seven days!
The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day Prompt for Sunday, January 5th is “Found”. I took a bunch of pictures, not all of which are included here. I found a few surprises when I uploaded and edited these pictures. It’s always a treat viewing the photos on a larger than 3.5″ screen.
But the big surprise is what I found, when I returned to my car:
Parking Violation Tickets
I was certain I knew that there was no parking enforcement on Sundays. I intend to contest them of course, but I have enough experience with the San Francisco Metropolitan Transit Authority to know that they will not excuse the tickets.
A couple of years ago, I began reading Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City books. For those who don’t know, the earliest of this series started out as a recurring installment in the San Francisco Chronicle, the local news paper. I imagine it was sort of like reading a soap opera. The books take place in San Francisco and center around a young gay man, Michael, and his naive, mid-western suburbia transplant neighbor turned best friend, Mary Ann.
One night, while reading one of the early volumes, a reference was made to an actor by the name of Tab Hunter. The first thought that popped into my head was that “Tab Hunter” sounds like a made up name (it is) of a porn star (it is not), yet, in spite of not being a connoisseur of pornography, the name seemed vaguely familiar to me. I never did find out why, but in my investigation I pulled up his IMDb page to see if I would recognize him, or might have seen him in anything. While I’m sure to have seen him in some of his late career television guest roles, nothing jumped out at me, but as luck would have it, he had starred in a film adaptation of DamnYankees!,a play I had the opportunity to see in the mid ’90s and very much enjoyed. It also happened to have significant relevance to my, as yet unpublished (in fact, still unedited) novel I was writing at the time.
While I perused Tab Hunter’s IMDb page I noticed that he was quite a handsome man in his youth, though, to be fair, he’s not a bad looking man now, considering his advanced years. Anyway, I became curious about him. Along with adding several of his appearances to my Netflix queue, I also checked out a copy of his autobiography, Tab Hunter Confidential, from the library. It was there that I learned a lot of interesting things about Tab Hunter. Most notable to me, especially at the time, is the fact that he is gay, and while Hollywood (and society) would not allow its leading men to come out publicly, in that day and age, Tab never really made much effort to hide the fact either. In fact, he claims, in his book, that he never really gave it much thought, never questioned whether it was who he really was or what he was supposed to do or be, and he never felt the need to make a declaration about the subject either. It was just who he was, and he never gave it a second thought. Too me, that seems like some pretty forward and progressive thinking, even by today’s standards, not to mention in the 1940s and 1950s! Tab Hunter Confidential is Tab’s life story beginning with his birth on July 11, 1931, in New York City, as Arthur Andrew Kelm (later Arthur Galeen) and ending with his quiet life on a secluded ranch near Santa Barbara, California where he still lives with his “partner” (I hate that word in this context) of 30 years and their many animals.
In the final pages of the autobiography, Tab describes being at his mother’s bedside as she lay dying. His mother had been a hard and difficult woman who never quite accepted who he was, choosing instead to ignore that part of his life and never discuss or confront the situation. His description of the woman reminded me quite a bit of my own mother and her general reaction to the news when I came out to her, and so when he describes reading a poem to her on her deathbed, a poem that I felt was very poignant, I found it quite moving:
I felt that this poem was a powerful message, and words to live by. It became the foundation of an idea; an idea which began to shift and grow in my mind. Over time, it began to take shape until it became something real.
I hadn’t planned to write about this, or share any pictures, until all the touch ups and augmentations were complete and it was completely healed, but circumstances intervened, and here we are.
Today’s prompt (and it actually still is today, as I’m writing this. Go me!) is Words To Live By. While I originally thought to find a way to photograph my favorite quote, “Stop laughing! You can’t fix stupid!”, I decided to try for something that is hopefully a bit more uplifting. So instead, I now present, in all it’s imperfect, incomplete glory, my fifth tattoo. The largest, most elaborate tattoo I’ve gotten so far, and certainly the one with the most meaning and significance behind it. (Not to be confused with the most sentimentality, which is still tattoo number four, all the way! Which, as it turns out, I don’t think I wrote about here… Hmm…).
Tattoo #5 – View from the front.
Tattoo #5 – View from the back.
I gave my basic concept to the tattoo artist who created a more elaborate, and better than I could have imagined, design. The poem, I think, is pretty self explanatory. The rest represents baring oneself before God, concealing nothing, and basking in the knowledge of God’s grace, mercy and love. With this tattoo, I proudly demonstrate the certain knowledge that I am a child of God, loved and blessed, free of judgement and condemnation, and that it is not a contradiction to be gay and a Christian.
The finished product is not perfect, however. As you can see in the third image, the first line at the top, “If I relax” the I and the r are too close together. The artist assures me that he can fix that and I certainly hope he can. It was definitely a disappointment when I took the bandage off after I got home and realized that the letters were so close together that it looks like an h “If helax”. The sun rays, in the colors of the pride flag, need to extend further onto my shoulder, chest and back than they do, and they definitely need to be filled in more. He told me as he was doing the tattoo that they would need to be touched up. Blocks of solid color that large rarely heal perfectly on the first pass. It is also my preference, and he says he can do it, for the colors to be a little more bold and primary, as they appear on the pride flag.
Finally, only after I’d had the tattoo for a few days and had looked at it regularly did I realize, it just doesn’t quite look complete to me. I have an appointment for this coming Wednesday to have the touch-ups and corrections done and at the same time, I’m going to have him do some augmentation to frame the tattoo in a little better. I’m thinking more flourishes, similar to what’s at the bottom of the poem along the sides and around my arm, meeting on the inside. That should be quite an exciting experience since the skin there is quite tender and soft. It does not go through a lot of abuse, being on the inside of the arm and, therefore, it will be much more sensitive than the outside of my arm was during the original application.
I’ve written about my first three tattoos previously, here, so I won’t get into them now. If you’re curious, check that post out. I had intended to link to the story of tattoo number four as well, but it seems that story hasn’t been written… yet. I will. I promise. It’s a good one.
I guess it’s good to get these things out of the way early. Heh!
I had a plan. It was a good plan. A great plan even. If I do say so myself. And I do. Because if I don’t… who will?
You see, it’s like this. Back in April, after I was offered the short-lived disaster of a job I had this year, and negotiated a start date that would allow me to take a much over-due trip to visit my sister and her family, including four children (my nieces and nephew), two of whom I had never seen in person, I decided that it was the opportunity and excuse I needed to invest in a fancy new 35 mm digital camera. I’ve always been interested in photography and wanted to learn more about it and with a digital camera I’d be able to see the immediate results of my attempts to improve on technique and composition. I bought the camera and took it with me on the trip, and of course, as soon as I took the camera out on the first day, the children started being children and wanted to take pictures themselves, and tell me what pictures I should take (my nephew kept saying, “take a picture of mine’s knees”), and insisted on seeing the pictures the instant they were taken. Very few pictures were actually taken on that trip because the camera posed such a distraction and any hope of getting some candid, true life photos was dashed on the first day.
Over the summer, I decided to take a photography class at the local community college. I knew from other’s experiences that this class would teach me not only how to compose a good quality, artistic photograph, but also, how to use editing software to make the picture look even better. A few days after I registered for the photography class, I decided to register for the first level, beginning swimming class and soon after decided that both classes were too much to do all at once, at the time. Ultimately, I decided that the swimming class was a higher priority because I wanted to be able to find a place to go to swim for exercise and once I had that covered I could be swimming for exercise whileI learned to take and edit good quality photographs in a later semester. That is still the plan, although when classes start up again in a couple of weeks, I’ll be taking the next swimming class with the hope of getting more effective and confident in that skill. Photography will wait until Summer or Fall Semesters. The camera sits in its case for weeks or months at a time without getting used and I’ve never finished reading the owner’s manual, or the “Photography for Dummies” book that I purchased and lugged all the way to New York and back with me, without ever cracking the spine.
During my most recent previous stint of unemployment, I began participating in a “photo-a-day” program run by the author of another blog, using just my iPhone and an Instagram account I haven’t even looked at in months. When I started working, I found myself far too busy and far to pre-occupied to keep up with it and I let it drop.
Recently, my urge to learn to properly use my camera has returned, as has my desire to practice and build my skill. I have also wanted to get back to more regular posting here on this site, and not have everything be all gloom and doom and woe is me as the last several months have been.
And then it hit me! The great idea! The perfect “solution”! “Photo-A-Day” meets “posting 365” (or whatever the hell they called it) meets new inspiration for both more and better photography AND more and more cheerful writing… I decided I would pull out the photography books and read a little bit of them each day, and I would combine that with the photo-a-day prompts from Fat Mum Slim and everyday, I would take a picture that is prompted by the Photo-A-Day prompt and post it on this here bloggy thingy. I would write a post about the photo if the spirit moved me, or I would just post the picture with a minimal explanation/caption and let it stand on its own. Every day. For 365 days.
I’ve already failed.
I wasn’t going to get too bogged down in the details of actually starting the plan on January 1st. It’s already 2:00 in the morning on January 2nd, so you see how well that worked out. But I was going to do a post for every picture and a picture for every day…
I worked last night. For the first time in more years than I can remember, I worked on New Year’s Eve. I would far rather have been out celebrating somewhere, preferably somewhere far away, like Las Vegas, or Sidney Harbor, but I need the money, and New Year’s Eve seemed like a good opportunity to earn a lot of tips. (It could have been a lot better than it was, but the whole experience is a separate story for another post.) I didn’t get off work until 1:45 AM. One of the other bar tenders who happens to live right down the street from me and I rode BART home from the city together and I gave her a ride from the station to her house. She invited me in and we had a two plus hours over-due celebratory glass of champagne and chatted for a little while before I went home. I arrived at home around 4:00 AM at which time I took a shower. I’ve never been able to go straight to bed after either arriving home, or taking a shower. I need time to settle in first. Plus, I had “nerd things” to do with my tip money. I briefly entertained the idea that I just wouldn’t sleep until bedtime on January 1st, because I knew that what happened, would happen… By 6:00 AM I was exhausted, could barely keep my eyes open and had no idea what I was seeing on the Netflix DVD I was watching. I gave up and went to bed, slept until noon and have not had the slightest inclination to sleep again. This is a scenario I do not want to make into a habit
When I woke up I was hungry and didn’t have time for “what should I cook for lunch”. I needed to eat immediately, so failing all other options (or rational consideration thereof) I ended up eating a couple of Eggo toaster waffles. Once the waffles were gone and the dish was washed off and in the sink (the dishwasher is full of clean dishes and I haven’t put forth the effort to put them away yet) I went to the living room and sat down. It was only then that I pulled up the schedule of prompts for the photo-a-day program and saw today’s prompt: lunch. I couldn’t even think of a viable and reasonable way to cheat.
Sometimes it’s good to set the bar low right up front so you only have one way to go from there…
I hadn’t really intended to resume writing at this site just to disappear for a month, but the last several weeks have been tremendously, and unexpectedly busy.
My new job keeps me very occupied, which means that, unlike my last job, I have not had any time for messing around at work, (well… I say I haven’t had any time for messing around at work… I have managed to find a few minutes here and there for some “messing around”… But that’s another story for another time, or maybe not…). I certainly have not had time for writing blog posts! On top of that, my evenings and week-ends have been pretty hectic as well. Making time to write blog posts has been nearly impossible! When I’m not working, which has been mostly on Saturday’s I’m hanging out with Lil’B, or other friends, or shopping, or whatever… And when none of that is going on, I’m often engaged in the ongoing text-a-palooza with “A Guy” that has been, in equal parts, ripping my heart out, and showing me a world of possibilities I never believed existed for me. He is less so “a guy” now, and more so “the guy”, though it’s still really complicated and not without its share of frustration… But I’m getting ahead of my self and it’s much too late to get very far into that tonight. Besides, I’m still processing and not sure what or how much to say. So apparently I’m just a big tease… But then again so is he… Er, what was I saying?
There are a lot of things to write about and I really must make the time to get it in, but for now, there’s this…
In the early middle of June, I went one Saturday afternoon to K’s house in Berkeley, for her son’s graduation party/barbecue. At the end of the party, I was in the kitchen packing up the things I had brought along, when K’s father, in from Arizona for the event, said, “Kevin? Is that your car out front here?” I confirmed that it was and he said, “cause this guy just smacked your car!” Now my car was parked at the curb, at the edge of K’s driveway, with at least 20 feet of open curb between my rear bumper and the corner. Remember that. It’ll be important in a second.
K and I ran out to the street to see what had happened as the late-model Honda Accord drove away from the scene. he drove halfway down the block, turned around in a driveway and then parked his car at the curb. Seeing K and me standing there, he strolled slowly, and with empty hands, back to where I was standing, behind my car and examining the damage. The first words out of this guy’s mouth were, “Oh, sorry. I thought I had enough room to park there.”
I turned around and looked at the expanse of curb behind me and said, “Um, I think you had plenty of room to park there”
We surveyed the damage to my car and it was minimal. I told the young man, “It doesn’t look to bad. I’m sure it won’t be too complicated to fix, but I should go ahead and get your information. Do you know he actually rolled his eyes at me, and then sauntered back down the street to his car to get his insurance information?!?
A week later, I had dropped my car off at a body shop to get the damage repaired, and I was on my way to the Hertz Local Edition lot to pick up my rental car. When the driver pulled into the lot, I saw it right away. The car of my dreams… all most. They had one white, Convertible Mustang on the lot (I don’t care for white cars, but otherwise it was great!) just waiting for someone to pick it out and drive away. I was meant to be that someone. My whole life a Mustang has been my dream car, though I never really thought I would be a Convertible guy. Since it was an insurance replacement (my insurance policy covered $25.00 a day), they were offering discounted rates. I don’t know what the Mustang would normally cost, but with the insurance company discount, it cost only $40.00 a day including Taxes. My portion was only about $15.00 a/day. When the lady at the counter told me that, I had only one response: “Why not! It’s time to kill the dream, anyway! Let’s go for it.” I thought the likelihood of it living up to my expectation was pretty low, so once I had driven one, I wouldn’t be so excited any longer.
I picked the car up on Friday morning, and I already had plans to go on a photo expedition on Saturday, with K. (In April, just before starting my new job, I went to Albany, NY to visit my sister and her family, finally getting to meet, not only the new baby baby, but also, the nearly three-year old I hadn’t gotten to meet at that point. Before going on that trip, I bought a fancy pants new digital 35 millimeter camera and I’m itching to learn all of its secrets.) Naturally, while we were out, I had to have some pictures of the Mustang.
The Mustang which did nothing to destroy my dream!
I had that car for a week five days, three of which were rainy, which I thought was completely unfair of Mother Nature. The rain tapered off on the third day, but it was still a bit cold. I didn’t care. I had a Mustang for only a few days. I was not about to lose a single precious moment in that car!
At the end of the week, I did not want to give it back which meant… There was only one thing to be done:
If you’ve been around these parts very long, (and with a couple notable exceptions, I’m certain you haven’t) you already know about my long-standing personal friendship with the beautiful, hilarious and talented actress, comedian, writer, podcaster, and Co-host of the daytime talk show The Talk on CBS, Aisha Tyler. If you’re new here, you can read the story here and here (though if you bother to look at those, I apologize that many of the pictures and links are broken, which makes them less exciting to read, especially the first one) and even here (though that last one is less about Aisha and more about an odd and confusing experience I had which happened to be on the same night as my last visit to one of Aisha’s shows.
That unavoidable, once a year event, which we often wish we could ignore is coming around again… really soon. And to celebrate Michelle and I went to dinner at a restaurant I had never been to before called The Dead Fish. (Rumor is that’s a famous line in the family that started the restaurant. The kids would ask mom, “What’s for dinner” and mom would say, “Dead fish.”) I had heard lots of good things about the place and had high expectations, which, sadly were not lived up to. It’s a nice enough place and the food was fine, but I expected better and more. I had “Crispy Pork Shank” which was not crispy at all and, in fact, was rather the consistence of pot roast, something I do not care for, and had a lot of fat on it. Plus, I ordered a Bombay martini, having recently discovered that Bombay Sapphire gin is actually quite smooth and pleasant – something that came as quite a surprise to me as I wasn’t much of a gin drinker. I wasn’t as specific as perhaps I should have been while ordering, but I was disappointed with what I was served. It did not come in a martini glass but rather some sort of goblet, almost like an old time champagne glass (non-flute). The goblet held very little liquid and they left me with an ice filled shaker with the rest of my martini in it. By the time I was ready to refill my glass, the ice was half melted and my martini was severely watered down. On top of that, there was noticeably too much vermouth which, for my tastes should really just be there to take the edge off the gin slightly, not be a notable flavor, particularly in a martini with such quality gin!
Dinner was followed by the late show at Cobb’s Comedy Club in San Francisco. My good friend Aisha Tyler was headlining. As far as I know she hasn’t toured since starting her stint as one of the cacophony of voices of The Talk which is in the same vein as The View. I told Michelle, “It’s better than The View, but it’s still a bunch of ladies sitting around a table talking over each other for an hour.” (I was disappointed when I found out my good friend was joining that show, but I am happy for her and her well-deserved success – and paycheck.) I was sure that after such a long break she would have a full set of new material, and for the most part she did.
After the show we waited in line to talk to Aisha, get a picture taken with her and an autographed copy of seasons 2 and 3 of her very funny, animated, FX sitcom Archer.
(This is the part where you find out just how close Aisha Tyler and I really are…)
Given the way I‘ve been feeling this weekend, I was feeling ever so slightly insecure and as we were waiting in line, I mentioned to Michelle that I was going to be disappointed if Aisha didn’t recognize me after so long.
We walked up to her and she greeted us as graciously as ever! She and I shook hands and ended up talking over each other. She said, “It’s nice to meet you.” as I said, “It’s been a long time. It’s nice to see you again.” A moment of unmistakable confusion darkened her eyes before she brightened up again and, with evident enthusiasm, said, “Hey! I didn’t recognize you for a minute.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking, and if it were anybody else, I might agree with you. I just don’t want to agree with you. And, only because of what she said next, do I choose to believe with certainty that she was sincere. She looked me over from head to toe and then looked back in my eyes and said, “Every time I see you, you’re skinnier than the last time! That’s why it takes me a second to recognize you! You look fantastic!” (Incidentally, her inscription on the cover of season 2 of Archer was “So foxy!” Those of you who are Archer fans will understand: on season 3 she wrote, “Sploosh!”)
See, I can’t help thinking that she really does recognize and remember me, because, “Hey you used to be way fatter!”, while complementary in its own strange way, isn’t really the way to fake remembering someone who may not have been fatter before. Given what I’ve observed first hand about her kindness and grace, I can’t believe she would choose that tactic.
I used to be way fatter…
(Really wishing I’d worn a better shirt. That shirt is WAY too big and is now in the “to donate” pile.)