I’m Cheating and It Happens Every Day

Okay, so the title isn’t entirely a statement of fact, and it is definitely a play on words, but it helps accomplish two goals for today.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-a-Day prompt for today is “Happens Everyday”.  As I tried to think of something to photograph that fits this description I realized that, while I could think of dozens of things that happen everyday, brushing teeth, taking a shower, using the toilet, preparing and eating meals, getting out of bed, getting into bed, playing on Facebook, reading, writing, ‘rithmetic– Oh…  not that one, not if I can help it…  I realized, that there wasn’t anything particularly exciting, and more importantly, not maybe just a little inappropriate to share on this forum, to photograph and share with the world.  Then it hit me.  There is something that I do everyday, something that I could share with the world, but more importantly something that leads into a story I’m supposed to tell and have not yet done.  Every day I put lotion on my tattoos, particularly the newest one, to moisturize the skin where they have been implanted and to bring out the color that is otherwise masked by the paleness of dried out skin.  While in the strictest of terms, I’m not sharing any photographs that were taken today, what I am sharing is all original photography, either taken by me, or taken of me, and with my camera.  That will make sense in a minute, but suffice it to say that it would’ve been really difficult for me to have taken all of the pictures that will be shared here.  With that said, here is the not so long-awaited story, as promised, of my fourth tattoo; the one with the sentimentality to surpass all others (on my body at least).

In October of 2012, I went one Sunday afternoon to pick up Lil’B from his house for our regular outing.  Lil’B and I had been matched for a little over three years at that point.  We had grown close.  The days of yesteryear, with the long silences and the uncertainty of our connection were past and I was confident, indeed certain of our closeness.  On this particular Sunday afternoon in early October, Lil’B presented me with a drawing that he had done for me.  Lil’B has always been a good artist and it’s something he enjoys.  In fact, our very first get together, I came over and we hung out in his bedroom as he showed me his toys and games and got to know what hanging out with me would be like in the relative comfort and safety of his own home, with his mother in the next room.  After showing me his toys and games and playing with them for a little while, he pulled out his art supplies and we began to draw pictures.  His pictures were much better than mine.  As I said, he’s always been a good artist.  Me?  Not so much.  I still have the drawings he did for me that day hanging on my refrigerator.  Unfortunately, in the present state of financial lack the state of California has been experiencing, arts classes of all kinds have been the first to go in the curriculum, in the interest of saving money.  It’s a tragedy in my mind that the powers that be, don’t see the value in exercising that part of a child’s mind and in fact the detriment that such deprivation inflicts on a child’s education.  Nonetheless, art classes are a thing of the past in Lil’B’s schools and the fact that he drew this picture for me was particularly special and moving for me, because he was not prompted by anyone to do it.  It was entirely of his own volition and on his own time that he drew this picture that so clearly, at least to me, depicts the meaning our relationship holds for him, but just as importantly illustrates that he is paying attention when we interact and he knows me and what I like (at least as much as is reasonable for a then 10-year-old to know.)

Lil’B drew this picture for me, purely because he was thinking of me, and he wanted to do it.

Drawing from Lil'B, Depicting Some Super Things
Drawing from Lil’B, Depicting Some Super Things

For the sake of his privacy I have covered up our names on the drawing, but you can see in the top right corner, he drew himself and me.  He also drew a picture of Superman and a Superman logo.  Then, though his spelling is wrong, he drew a “Supermisha logo” and a picture of Supermischa, a grey cat in Superman costume.  I thought it was adorable, as I’m sure you’ll agree.

Sleeping Beauty.  Mischa Asleep on my lap... Just where he believed he belonged.
Sleeping Beauty. Mischa Asleep on my lap… Just where he believed he belonged.

Purely by chance, Lil’B gave me this drawing approximately two weeks before my little buddy, Mischa fell too seriously ill to go on and I had to make the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my life.  Mischa wandered into my life when he was just about ten weeks old and with the exception of a few months here and there when I lived in places he couldn’t, he was with me for his entire life, which in the end, was a few months longer than 20 years.  He had a long and good life, being well protected and taken care of and when his time came, he went peacefully, in my arms, and knowing that he was loved to the very end.  It was, without a doubt, the worst day of my life.  I still miss him terribly.

Anyway, with Mischa gone, Lil’B’s picture became that much more special to me.  As these things go, I began to formulate an idea.  As with tattoo number 5, the idea morphed and grew and began to take shape.  In June of 2013, after several months of contemplation and communication with my tattoo artist, I finally had a plan and an appointment.

While the idea for the tattoo was, in no small part directly inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, it was still a ten-year-old’s art work.  As special as Lil’B is, and as important as he is to me, I did not want the artwork of a ten-year-old permanently affixed to my body.  I made it clear to Lil’B that he had inspired the design and that it was special to me for that reason.  I don’t think he really got it until he saw the finished product, but he seemed to really like it once he saw it and he understood the significance of the components.

There are three components that make up the significance of this tattoo, the obvious component is the part that memorializes Mischa’s life and his place in my heart.  This component is inspired by Lil’B’s drawing, though it is significantly cleaned up and made into something I would be happy to have as a permanent part of my body.

Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.
Supermischa, without the yellow filled in on the belt and logo.

The next component Is actually the Superman logo as used in the 1993 television series, Lois and Clark:  The New Adventures of Superman. While I had seen and enjoyed the Christopher Reeve Superman movies when I was a kid, it really wasn’t until Lois and Clark came along that I became a big fan of Superman.  It may or may not have had something to do with my attraction to Asian men and the fact that Dean Cain is half Japanese.  Regardless, I became a fan of the character and what he stands for while enjoying that series.

Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman
Superman Logo as it appeared in the 1993-1997 series, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

The third component of the tattoo is the logo from the 2006 movie Superman Returns.  Lil’B was born in 2001 but the last movie before Superman Returns came out in 1987.  The image here is distorted due to location and the angle of the original, unedited photograph.

Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.
Distorted view of Superman logo as seen in 2006 movie, Superman Returns.

Admittedly, this is a tiny bit of a stretch in terms of matching up dates, but the idea is that component number one represents Mischa, component number two represents me, component number three represents Lil’B.  When put together to form the completed tattoo, it both memorializes Mischa and commemorates my relationship with Lil’B, both by representing him with the newer logo and by incorporating the artwork he inspired into the piece.  He thinks it’s pretty cool.

It’s a subtle detail, but the components are arranged in the finished tattoo, in birth order with my logo at the top, Mischa in the middle, and Lil’B’s logo at the bottom.

Here we see a selection of “in progress” photos taken by my good friend and tattoo guru, K (with my camera), to show the progress of the tattoo from beginning to end.

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By the way, you might have noticed the “6/13” at the bottom of Lil’B’s logo.  This was my fourth tattoo.  On countless occasions, I have had people ask, of the first three, “How long have you had that?” and I never knew the answer.  As I was preparing to have this tattoo done, I looked back through various records (*cough* paper journals *cough*) and found out the month and year that I had each of the previous three tattoos done and as part of the process for tattoo number four, I had dates added to each of my tattoos so that when people asked me how long I’ve had them, I could refer to the date on the artwork and answer the question.  If you refer back to the pictures of tattoo number five, you’ll see that there is a date added to that tattoo as well.  This will be something I will keep up with going forward as I continue to get more tattoos…  And I will be getting more tattoos.

So there you have it.  Two birds, one stone.  It happens everyday that I put lotion on my tattoos including tattoo number four, the previously untold tattoo…  heh!

By the way, tomorrow’s photo-a-day prompt is “upside down”.  I’m not the least bit sure how I’m going to manage a picture for that, that is not just using editing tools to turn a right side up picture, upside down.  The recommendation on Fat Mum Slim’s list is, if nothing else, “turn your phone upside down” to take a picture.  Apparently Chantelle doesn’t have an iPhone, or she’d know that turning the phone upside down does no good.  The accelerometer in the phone just turns the picture right side up for you…  I suppose that’s not any less cheating than using editing tools to turn something upside down.  We’ll have to see what I can come up with.

Another Quiet Week-End

Not too much to report this week-end.  After work on Friday, I stopped by Karin’s house to drop something off for her and ended up staying for three hours, hanging out, having dinner and, of all things, talking religion… go figure.

I slept late on Saturday and then took my recyclables to the recycling center.  I buy way too much Diet Pepsi, so I pay way too much in California Redemption Value (bottle deposits), not to take them in and get my money back.  Every few months I load up my car with trash bags full of aluminum cans and plastic bottles and take them in.  Yesterday, I got just a few cents shy of $45.00 so I’d say this is a worthwhile exercise.

After I dropped those off, I went to Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits to get some… well, chicken and biscuits.  I was feeling the need for a little comfort food.  It helped a bit.  I spent the rest of the afternoon just relaxing and hanging out.  Watched all the regular television on my DVR.  Watched a Netflix DVD, original Doctor Who, the episode where Peter Davison relinquished the role to Colin Baker (not that anybody knows or cares about that), and then I watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog.  It was pretty good and funny, right up to the end, and then it got a bit weird.  Oh well.  I even got some recreational reading done.  And in spite of all that resting I still managed to stay up way too late last night.

I slept in this morning, but woke up to a very nice voice mail message from Gene who, sadly, returned to San Diego today.  I got up and watched last night’s episode of Saturday Night Live, hosted by Maya Rudolph (very funny) while I ate my lunch and then it was time to get ready and head out.  Today was Lil’B day and we went to the movies.

I occasionally ask him if there’s anything in particular he’d like to do and he almost always says, “I don’t know”, which comes as a surprise to exactly zero people, I’m sure.  But last Monday night, when I was taking him home after dinner, I asked him if he had anything in particular in mind that he’d like to do this week-end and after a moment’s contemplation he told me he wanted to go see Journey 2, The Mysterious Island.  This is not a movie I would have opted to go to on my own, but Lil’B rarely expresses a specific desire of any kind so when he does, I like to try to make sure it happens.

I posted this on my Facebook page:

About to watch Journey 2 with my Little Brother…  I may have to watch this movie through my fingers!!!

I thought this movie was going to be filled with over-sized creepy crawly things and that my skin would be crawling by the time it was over.  There were a couple of instances with enormous centipedes, some massive spiders and a couple bee’s large enough to ride (I’m allergic to bee stings so they always oog me out!) and of course a lizard as big as a house, but all-in-all the movie wasn’t terrible.  It actually had a pretty good story that should have been pretty entertaining but it was not as well executed as it could have been.  Too bad.

I spent the rest of the evening cleaning up my Twitter account.  Deleting people who have either been inactive for a long time, or who do not follow me back and therefore aren’t interactive.  Or at least I did until Twitter started having technical difficulties and now here we are!

It’s a long week-end and mercifully I do not have any big plans tomorrow.  Officially, it’s not a holiday for me, but my company is kind of weird.  We have multiple entities that all co-exist, but the employees are on different payrolls.  Since my office building is owned and operated by the Northern California Region which considers Presidents Day to be a holiday, the building is closed, but since I am not a Northern California Region employee and Presidents Day is not a holiday on my payroll, I am required to take the day off and use one of my four float days for it.  I don’t really mind though.  I used to be a Northern California Region employee and I had the holiday but no float days.  Now I have four float days but lost this one holiday.  So I choose to look at it, instead, as though I have three float holidays and continue to have Presidents Day off as a paid holiday.

I texted Michelle earlier today to see if she wanted to go see This Means War tomorrow but as it turns out, it’s not a holiday for her.  So I guess I should just be grateful.  And I am!

Your Gay Friend Doesn’t Speak For Me

A few months ago, a friend of mine, whom I know not to be racist or homophobic or otherwise filled with hate posted a comment on Facebook to which I took offense:

The cars with the reindeer decorations are gay. I have seen 2 today

I replied by saying that I didn’t realize cars could be gay, to which she said this one was.  I said, “Dislike” since Facebook hasn’t been kind enough to provide an “I don’t approve of this” button – yet.

A friend of her’s, someone she knows face to face (I’ve only known her through on-line interactions) responded and said that there’s nothing wrong with saying “gay”.  I agree, and I said so before adding, “it’s not OK to use ‘gay’ as a derogatory statement.”  He provided a nasty, spiteful comment that doesn’t bear repeating and that really demonstrated to me that there’s still a long way to go, even in the realm of gay’s bashing each other.  And I opted to see my way out of that conversation.  The last thing I saw before “hiding” that “story” from my timeline was a statement from my friend who said that she meant no harm by it, that she would never want to hurt me and that there was no “cause for ‘ugliness'” as a result of her comment.  She said that her gay friends have “given me permission” to make gay jokes.

The other day, after a much too long absence from her blog, she talked about “Me and my bestest queer* are going to…”  The asterisk pointed to a footnote that read, “*He allows me to call him the queer so it’s fine.”  One has to question:  Why was it necessary to point out his permission, if “it’s fine.”  Clearly my friend is aware of the potential for offense at the comment.

First, let me say that I am not calling this friend out, personally.  This is a commentary on society, which uses these two relatively recent events as examples of the issue I’m discussiong.  I’ve made a point of not naming her and I’m pretty sure she’ll be the only one who knows who I’m talking about, so let me also say that she is the only one who could out herself if she chooses to comment on this post in a way that will make it clear that she’s the one I mean…

Second, let me say that I know my friend is not a homophobe and that she does not personally harbor any ill will or negative feelings about me, or the gay community as a whole.  On the contrary, she loves us.

Third, let me say that I don’t, personally, take particular offense at the use of the word “queer”.  Webster’s dictionary defines the word queer as:  Different from the normal or expected : strange.  So, maybe I should take offense at the word, but I don’t.  Just like I don’t take offense at the word gay.  Personally, I am gay, and that’s not a bad thing.  I am not queer, because there’s nothing different or strange about me.  However, when those words are used to describe anything or anyone with a derogatory connotation involved, then those words are offensive to me.  And they ought to be offensive to you, too!

So here’s the thing.  In discussing this friend of mine and her “bestest queer” (whom she revealed to me, in a separate communication, that she refers to as “the queer”) she can call him whatever she wants in private conversation between the two of them.  If he has no problem with her referring to him as “the queer”, than more power to them.  If he doesn’t feel that saying something which she clearly doesn’t like “is gay” is a derogatory use of the word, and she wants to say it to him; more power to them.  But just because the two of them don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, doesn’t mean the whole world agrees with them.  It doesn’t even mean most of the world agrees with them.  And I’ve got news for the two of them:  It doesn’t even mean that the majority of that particular community agrees with them.

So, okay.  The two of them are having a private conversation and she wants to tell her friend that cars with reindeer decorations on them are gay, and he thinks it’s funny, but they happen to be having this conversation in the middle of a restaurant and other people hear them.  That is not a private conversation and instead of making a funny joke, they’ve just utilized hate speech.  To the people in that restaurant, they’re not two people having a joke, they’re a couple of homophobes (or at the very least, very insensitive people), using a perfectly valid word that describes a perfectly valid portion of our society and comparing them to something that is unwanted and negative.  You can make the argument that “it’s a private conversation between the two of them” if you want, but it’s not.  It’s just not.  (Certainly Facebook isn’t.)    And just like that (*snaps fingers*) It’s not “okay, because my gay friend gave me his permission.”  Your gay friend doesn’t speak for me.

But let’s take this just a little bit further.  Let’s say my friend and her “bestest queer” agree that it’s not okay to use this language in public, but they are sitting around in the “bestest queer’s” living room using gay slurs (in a “humorous way”) and making jokes in which the term gay is used in a derogatory manner and they both think it’s funny and they’re completely at ease with it.  How long is it going to be before one of them slips in public and makes one of those jokes where other people can hear (or read) them?  When you allow yourself to think of something as being okay in private, before long you start thinking it’s okay in public, too.  Before long you lose your perspective and you stop censoring yourself when it’s appropriate to do so.

Even worse!  Suppose my friend and her “bestest queer” think I’m crazy and there’s just no way they would slip up in public and so it’s okay to make there jokes in private, just between the two of them.  This friend of mine has a young son; a toddler.  If she and her “bestest queer” sit around her house behaving this way, not only are they losing their own perspective of what’s appropriate, but they’re setting the example for her son that it’s the proper way to behave, or even worse teaching him that there really is something wrong with being gay, teaching him to judge, hate or otherwise criticize homosexuality, and if he happens to be gay, there’s a good chance that he could feel shame and fear of telling his parents because it’s been portrayed as something to be made fun of.

Outsiders do not get “inside jokes”.  The people around you can not read your mind.  The only thing people can go by, in understanding your beliefs and developing a sense of who you are, is your words.  It is necessary, therefore, that you use a sense of good judgement in determining how you use certain terms in modern society.

A person can make the argument until he is blue in the face that he doesn’t mean any harm with the use of certain words, but the bottom line is, when you use a term, like say, “gay”, in a context in which that term does not fit by definition, like say, “cars with reindeer decorations are gay”, one can only go by what they hear (or read).  Webster’s dictionary defines “gay” as:  1. Merry.  2. Bright and lively, especially in color.  3.  Inclined toward social pleasures.  4.  Homosexual.  — n. A homosexual.  I don’t think cars are capable of either emotion or sexual identity/behavior, therefore, I can only assume the statement is a derogatory statement which should not be made.

The bottom line is this:  No matter what is in your heart, when you make a statement that has a negative context and you use a term that describes a particular section of society (particularly one that is already persecuted) to convey that negative context, you are, in fact making a statement of hate.

And it should. not. be. done.

Now, I’m Not Saying I’m Not Wearing Underwear…

For about a week now, the hosts of my favorite morning radio show have been promoting National Commando Day today.  Sometimes the tangents they go off on are not… the cleanest.  They stated that when a woman goes commando it’s called climando.  I think that’s disturbing.  (Which begs the question, why did I include it here?)  I know what that means and I’d prefer not to think about it.

Anyway, I wondered what this National Commando Day thing was all about.  I mean, it seems like every day is some sort of national day of something (though I have no idea who decides.)    Today the LOLCats seem to think it’s National Popcorn Day:

courtesy icanhazcheezburgers.com

But can we have competing national days?  Am I supposed to kick back and watch a movie while eating disgustingly over-buttered popcorn while not wearing any underpants?  I’m confused.

I did a search for “National Commando Day” on Google and the first item in the results says National Commando Day 2009.  In 2009, there was a National Commando day, but it was July 31st.  Later I found there was also a National Commando day on July 29th, 2010.  Nothing on 2011 and certainly nothing about today.  The link points to www.nationalcommandoday.org/ a website that focuses on bringing attention to Prostate Cancer and the need for early detection.  OK, I can get… ahem… behind… that.

The next relevant result was for GameStop.  September 20, 2011 was a GameStop-declared “National Commando Day”, but it clearly was not the same thing.  Apparently, that was the day that Gears of War 3 came out.  I’m not so sure I’m amused by their use of “commando” for their purposes, but that’s just me.

There’s a link to a Facebook group for National Commando Day, but it’s the same organization and it appears to refer back to the 2009 date.  And there’s a link to a site called http://www.prostateconditions.org/ which then has a link back to National Commando Day.org.  Nothing about a 2012 event.  There is, of course, a link to “going commando” on Wikipedia and not entirely surprising, there’s a link to the Sarah & Vinnie podcast from just this morning discussing National Commando Day, where supposedly, all of the on-air personalities of the show were going commando (or climando – ew) today.

At one point Sarah & Vinnie mentioned something about Betabrand which I’ve never even heard of before this week.  A quick search for Betabrand on Google reveals that the clothing manufacturer (who happens to be here in San Francisco) does make a product called Couch Commando Drawstring Pants.

Okay!  Now I get it.  I just click on the link to Betabrand’s website.  Apparently, I’ve had it wrong all along.  Today is actually Intergalactic Commando Day.  Here’s the deal.  According to Betabrand’s website, lots of authoritative, know-it-all types (like the Farmers Almanac, among others) agree that today, January 19th, is the coldest, most brutal day of the year, here in the northern hemisphere.  A quick downward swipe on the face of my iPhone tells me it’s about 50 degrees outside, so…  I guess I’ll take their word for it.  The challenge is:

On this auspicious and frigid date, men around the world (and beyond) are encouraged to spend the day 100% underwear-free. Our modest goal is 100 million participants: a massive, free-balling force of spirited gentleman dedicated to showing Old Man Winter who’s really boss. (Tropical commandos are welcome to join this effort in spirit.) In addition, Betabrand is asking all available women to report for spot-check duty in order to enforce the (un)dress code.

It’s actually a joint effort with an organization called Veterans Expedition.  I’m not really clear on what Veterans Expedition does, and I’m tired of reading other websites instead of writing on my own, so I’m just going to say that it’s an organization that does something that benefits Veterans, and that’s never gonna be a bad thing.  Anyway, for every purchase of Betabrand pants that occurs(ed) on January 18 & 19, 2012, they will donate $10.00 to Veterans Expedition…

And now I have jokes about what the crossed purposes of prostate cancer screening and Veterans Expeditions might be and exactly what kind of expeditions we’re talking about, going through my head and begging to get out my fingers, which… no!  Just no.

Anyway, as I said, I’m not saying I’m not wearing underwear, but…  anyway you look at it, it seems like it would be for a good cause…  😉