It Seemed Like A Good Idea at the Time

I said so myself…  I might have been wrong.

This idea of using the daily photo prompts to take pictures and write blog posts, seemed like a thing.  It really did.  Clearly, though, it was not a thing I could keep up with.  And I’m so bad at letting these things go and moving on from them that when the first time I didn’t get it done, I thought, “Well, shit.  But that’s ok.  I’ll just double up tomorrow.”  And of course, “tomorrow” came and went and no pictures were taken and no posts were written, and before I knew it, I had a backlog of pictures to take and post and I didn’t know how I was going to make that happen and suddenly, it’s been, what? two weeks since I wrote anything.

But really?  I mean, really!

Let’s take a look at the prompts I did not fulfill, shall we?

January 8th:  “Lucky Number”

Okay.  So I actually had (or rather have) a decent way to accommodate this.  I don’t really believe in “luck” per se, and as such, I don’t really have a lucky number.  I do have a favorite number, 23, which comes up in my life frequently and without reason, but I wouldn’t call it a lucky number and I couldn’t give you a discernible reason for its prominence if you asked.  On January 9th, K and I went back to the tattoo shop where I got my latest tattoo done.  She got a new tattoo, adding on to one she’s had for several years.  (In fact she got it at the same shop where, and within a few weeks when, I got my first one.)  We went together, and when he was finished with her new tattoo, he cleaned up, set up fresh equipment and did my touch up/repair/augmentation work that I alluded to.  As it happens, I incorporated the number 23 into the additional art and could have taken a picture of that for the photo prompt…  Except it didn’t happen until the day after the prompt and wasn’t really ready for photographing for many days after that.  In fact, the tattoo as a whole, still isn’t.  It’s been two weeks today and much to my surprise, and displeasure, it still isn’t healed.  The sun rays done in the colors of the pride flag, were touched up and extended farther onto my shoulder, which, can I just tell you, was not a pleasant experience!  For some reason, those blocks of solid color have taken a long time to heal.  They’re much better now, but there are still dry and scaly patches that are bothersome and difficult to resist the urge to pick and scratch – which is disaster for a tattoo.

It’s already evident that I will have to go back for at least one more touch-up, but that most likely won’t happen until May.  My swim class starts up again tonight, and while I don’t expect our instructor will actually have us get in the water tonight (he didn’t the first class last semester), I wouldn’t be able to anyway, because it’s not smart to get into a public pool, while a tattoo is still in this scaly stage.  I think I’ll be okay by Monday, but I don’t know for sure.  Fortunately, it’s the first night of instruction and it’s about getting comfortable being in the water and floating, ducking under the surface and kicking against the wall.  If I have to sit that out, it will not be a big loss.  Strangely, I am equal parts excited and trepidatious about class starting up again.  I really enjoyed the class last semester (and will again) but I also haven’t been in a pool since the last class I attended last semester.  I’m sure whatever endurance I’ve built up has been lost.  I just hope I haven’t taken too many steps backwards in terms of technique…

January 9th: “Natural”

The instruction was to take a picture of something natural or created naturally.  The possibilities for this are endless, and yet, with what was available to me, fairly boring.  The same goes for the follow-up prompt the next day…

January 10th: “Man-Made”

Take a photo of something made by man.  In a lot of ways, this would have been even easier, because everywhere you look you can see things that are made by man.  But that almost makes the prompt uninteresting, because I could easily have taken a picture of my television, or my furniture, or my computer, or…  Well, pretty much anything in my house that was not fresh produce.  And since I didn’t leave the house that day, the photo would have been something in my house.  It quickly becomes uninspiring.

But you see, this is an ongoing problem in the realm of photo challenge photo taking.  If I don’t leave the house, then the opportunities for the photos are greatly reduced.  If I do leave the house, do I really want to lug my camera around with me everywhere I go?  The answer to that is two-fold, because yes, I do want to take it with me everywhere I go.  And, NO!  I don’t want to have to carry it around and keep track of it and make sure it doesn’t come to any harm everyday, everywhere.  Anyway, while I’m unemployed and have limited reasons to leave the house, I spend days at a time inside my home and therefore have far fewer options for creative photos that meet the challenge and don’t become redundant.

January 11th: “Looking Down”

Once again, without leaving the house my options were limited to looking over the railing of the stairs leading up to my front door, which would be…  concrete sidewalk, or very poorly maintained grass in the side yard, or looking out a window.  Which wouldn’t really be “down” so much as “out”.  Of course, I could have taken one of those ubiquitous pictures of my feet, or of my shoes on my feet (which I don’t wear in the house), but that’s not particularly interesting in my mind.  Pass.

January 12th: “Something colorful”

I didn’t leave the house.  Like the song says, “Second verse.  Same as the first!”

January 13th: “Makes me Smile”

This one I actually could have done, with only the smallest bit of cheating.  I always figure that the point of the Photo-A-Day challenges, is to take a photo that day that goes with the prompt, however, I was actually with K when she took the photo she posted for “natural”, only it was “lucky number” day.  Maybe it’s the thought that counts?

Anyway, I took this picture of Lil’B a couple of weekends prior while we were on an outing to the Hyde Street Pier and exploring some of the ships that are moored there.  Lil’B always makes me smile.  So if you don’t worry about the fact that I already posted this picture once, or about meeting the date, then it’s all good.  🙂

Taking a picture of Lil'B, taking a picture of me.

Taking a picture of Lil’B, taking a picture of me.

January 14th: “Three Things” 

This one might actually have been pretty interesting.  The instruction was to take a picture of three things.  “They might belong together, or they might be totally random”.  But of course, by this time, I was a week behind on this endeavor, and in my mind, I couldn’t have participated in this one without having done all the ones that came before.  This leads to my new challenge for myself to be further discussed at the end of this post.

January 15th: “Black and White”

This prompt is much like the “upside down” prompt in that, with modern technology, any picture can be black and white with just the press of a few buttons.  I could have made a picture black and white using settings on my camera, or using iPhoto to edit it that way.  There’s no real challenge in that, and once again, I only left the house to work.  Irony being what it is, I could have taken a “selfie” at work and posted that, since my uniform for most bar tending jobs is a white shirt with black pants, tie and vest.  But again, I didn’t want to bring my camera along to work.

January 16th: “Sun”

The instruction was to take a picture of the sun.  Of course this was totally doable, even without having left the house.  But again.  I was too far behind.

January 17th: “Tiny”

Does this really need any explanation?

January 18th: “Happy Place”

I wouldn’t even know where to start with this one.  (Plus I worked again, that day.)

January 19th: “Breakfast”

“Take a photo of your breakfast, or where you were for breakfast time.”  This was a Lil’B Sunday.  I picked him up earlier than usual so we could go to the Oakland, Zoo.  I slept through breakfast, and well?  Really?  Does anyone really want a photograph of my bed?  I don’t think so.  I took lots of pictures at the zoo, though I haven’t yet had time to edit them.  But those photographs had nothing to do with the prompt.

January 20th: “To Do List”

I suppose there might be something interesting in this.  The instruction was to take a picture of the actual list, or a series of pictures of things I did.  At the moment, my to do list, is only in my head, and it’s so long that it’s actually debilitating and nothing gets done.  Something I absolutely must work on.  But anyway, this photo prompt wasn’t doable either for many reasons.

January 21st:  “Blue”

Sometimes they’re just too easy, which I guess I shouldn’t complain about.  While I am not consciously aware of having a favorite color, or a strong preference toward any one color, until recently, a quick glance at my closet would have told you that blue is unequivocally my favorite color.  Finding a blue thing to take a picture of would not have been difficult.  Then of course, there’s always this:

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Me and my new car, taken outside the dealership, Half Moon Bay, CA

Heck, even the blue Honda over my left shoulder was mine.  That’s the car I traded in for the Mustang.  (Don’t talk to me about the monumental difference in gas mileage.  I will cut you!)

And that leads us to today, January 22nd: “Nice!”.  The instruction just says, “take a picture of something nice”, which, again, could be anything.  Hell, I could even just direct you to scroll up an inch or so.  There’s something pretty nice!  Maybe I’ll take some additional pictures today, maybe I won’t.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

Anyway, my new challenge for my self, as alluded to with January 14th: “Three Things” is to not get so caught up in the idea that I have to post one thing before I can post something else.  Especially when that one thing is something that I am avoiding doing for whatever reason.  Maybe that thing will get posted, maybe it won’t.  But I shouldn’t let that thing prevent me from posting other things.  I have, in the past, had a problem with holding back on those thoughts because I hadn’t posted the other thing yet, and then I end up losing lots of ideas that I wanted to convey.  Probably this won’t lead to anything earth shattering, but at least it should help me keep my writing muscle exercised…  Lord knows it’s the only one that’s getting any exercise.

 


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Upside-Down… Whatever

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today’s Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt is “upside-down”.  And as I mentioned, I could easily take any old picture and use iPhoto to turn it upside down and meet today’s objective.  But that’s too easy and would really mean nothing in the grand scheme of things.

But the truth is, “upside-down” is a good prompt.  It’s not a great photo prompt, but it’s a good prompt.  You see, it’s more applicable to my life.  My life is upside-down right now.

Don’t worry.  This is not a “woe is me,” “I’m so depressed” kind of post.  I’m really not, which, honestly, probably ought to worry me.  It’s more of an introspective, “wow my life is… ‘upside down'” kind of post.

You see, I’ve been “underemployed” since mid-October.  Honestly?  It’s been lovely!  I absolutely love not having to get up at 6:30 in the morning to go to work!  I love not having to listen to people snivel about the temperature in the building, because honestly?  I’m hard pressed to give a damn that you’re cold, while you’re wearing Capri pants, sandals, and a silk, sleeveless shirt during winter and you’re the only person around who’s cold.  You expect me to turn up the heat?  Why don’t you try putting on a fucking sweater!  And don’t give me a song and dance about it being too cold and that’s why you need an illegal space heater, which you just happened to think was best placed on top of a bunch of cardboard boxes!!!

Yeah.  It’s been a while since I had a full-time job.  From a financial perspective, that’s not a good thing.  I’m living on fumes.  I just put in a request to liquidate my very meager retirement account just so I’ll have money to live on for the next six months or so.   Of course I want to spend as little of that money as possible but the fact remains that unless I want to move back to a red state suburbia, I must find a way to support myself, even if I have to find a way to make myself comfortable in a less…  comfortable lifestyle than that to which I am currently accustomed.

I still need to look for a full-time job in my chosen profession of Facility Management which will hopefully sustain my life and provide an opportunity for advancement that will result in more money and more of a comfortable lifestyle.

In the meantime I have to bring in some money, and so today I went to two separate restaurants, in two very separate parts of the bay area to apply for bar tending jobs.  I happened across two posts yesterday on Craigslist for bartenders at specific locations of chain restaurants.  One is seven miles from my house in the midst of a fairly business, but slightly residential area that might provide me with a decent opportunity to make money in tips and gain some convenient restaurant experience.  The other is 30 miles from my house and is in the midst of an almost entirely business district.  Naturally, at the close restaurant the hiring manager is on vacation until Monday.  The hostess recommended that I call in the morning on Monday and then plan to come by around 2:30 in the afternoon to see the hiring manager for a potential interview.  She even told me, “I think he’ll like you.  You look a lot alike.

“Oh?” I said, smiling.

“Yeah,” she said, “he wears glasses.  Has a shaved head…”   I hoped she’d make a comment about how he was a snappy dresser, or maybe how I was exactly his type romantically…  but whatever.  I’ll call on Monday morning and hope I can interview with him on Monday afternoon.  The problem is, restaurants tend to prefer to promote from within, for bar tenders and they like to hire servers with the potential hope of getting promoted to bar tenders.  I’m not interested in serving.  In fact, I really suck at it.  I want to be a bar tender.  That’s what I took a class to learn, and that’s why I respond to ads that say they’re hiring bar tenders, not “servers who might eventually become bar tenders.”

From there, I went to the second restaurant.  It was 32 miles from the restaurant I had visited first, and at that time of day, 2:45 pm, it was supposed to take me 32 minutes to get there.  That was about right.  In keeping with the idea that my life is upside down right now, they seemed interested in hiring me.  They really pushed the fact that it is “a long drive” from my house.  And it is.  It’s about 25 miles, which legitimately may be too far for me to drive for a shift that isn’t going to garner me nearly as much money as I had hoped for, but at least it gets my foot in the door for the industry.  Hopefully by having a little restaurant experience under my belt I will be more attractive to places that I can expect to make better tip money, closer to home. They also made a big point of telling me that because they’re in a business district, their biggest days are end of the work week and not so much week-ends (as is the case in most restaurants) and they pushed the fact that they like to promote from within and are really looking for servers (even though their ad said, bartenders).

I spoke with the general manager today and she suggested that they could hire me as a “cocktail server” to work in the bar during happy hours and that depending on how quickly I learned and picked up on the “important details of their menu” I could move on to bar tender from there.  I played along as though I understood that serving would be a necessary part of the job (and I really did, though I don’t like it) and the end result was that I will go back for a “final” interview on Thursday before a final decision was made, but based on the conversations with the two people I did talk with, they seemed interested, if I was.  They just put a lot of emphasis on the desire for longevity.  I told them I believe in keeping my commitments and so if something came up with one of my other employers when I was already scheduled with this restaurant, I would not ditch the restaurant for the job.  I also told them I was looking for a full-time job in my “chosen career,” as the manager kept putting it, and so, of course, my availability would change depending on where and when I found full-time employment.

Meanwhile, the best prospect I’ve had, since before I got “released during probation” from my last full-time job, is offering me about three shifts a week, not behind a bar, at approximately $100 (or less) per shift in tips, and I’ll have to drive 25-30 miles each way, in my 18 miles to the gallon, gas guzzling, albeit sexy as hell, automobile to get there.

On the one hand, I’m excited at the prospect of being wanted for a job, anywhere at all.  On the other hand, this job can’t possibly sustain me and I must keep looking.  The question suddenly becomes, is it enough to put me off unemployment insurance, and is there anything to be gained by accepting a job that will reduce my available time to search for a job, while not making enough to eliminate the free money that is unemployment insurance…

What to do…  What to do?

Anyway, just for the hell of it…  Here.  Mostly just ’cause I think it’s funny.  A Cosmopolitan I made at home the other night, using Hanger One Mandarine Blossom Vodka, #upside-down.

An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka.  Notice how it doesn't spill. ;)

An upside-down picture of a cosmopolitan made with Hangar One Mandarine Blossom Vodka. Notice how it doesn’t spill. 😉

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.

Found

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.

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But the big surprise is what I found, when I returned to my car:

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.

Words To Live By

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 Damn Yankees!, 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:

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

A powerful poem I discovered while reading Tab Hunter Confidential, an autobiography.

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…).

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.

Pride Flag

Pride Flag – Photo credit not mine.

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.

My Town

I have always had a habit of thinking about “today” or “yesterday” or “tomorrow” in relation to when I sleep and wake up again, rather than by the traditional means of following the clock.  In the strictest sense, it is already Saturday and as with all the other’s so far, this post is “late” because it’s for Friday’s prompt.  I say, however, that it’s the thought, the intent, that matters and not the very “letter of the law”, so, whatever.  Here it is.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt for Friday, January 3, 2013 is “My Town”, which is actually kind of a neat coincidence, given that the town I live in, Oakland, California, is known as “town” or “the town” because of its geographic location across the bay from San Francisco, commonly referred to by the locals as “the City”.

*Quick side note:  I’ve always held the philosophy that there are hundreds of “the city”s in existence.  When I was attending my one semester of University in 1993, I was attending a relatively small school about 40 minutes east of Oklahoma City and many of the students at this university referred to Oklahoma City as “the city”.  I always thought that was kind of funny, quaint even, because I had often heard people on television refer to New York City as “the city”.  Then I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and heard the locals talking about “the City”.  It didn’t take long for me to adopt the vernacular and begin referring to “the City” myself.

I finally arrived at the inescapable conclusion that it is all accurate, but in its own way; it just depends on how you spell it.  Observe:  Living outside Oklahoma City when my friends and I wanted to go to the nearest metropolis, Oklahoma City, we made plans to go to “the city”.  I suspect that anyone living near a metropolis, could, and many do, refer to that metropolis as “the city”.  I now live in a significant town with a population of over 400,000 people.  With a large downtown business district and new housing and arts and shopping areas popping up all the time, Oakland is a metropolis in it’s own right, however, it is overshadowed by the specter that is its sister city across the bay, San Francisco.  Therefore Oakland isn’t “the city” because there is a larger city within a reasonable distance.  San Francisco is “the City” (notice the capital C).  New York City, however, is the city with the highest population in the country at nearly nine million people.  With the nations financial center and the east coast hub of the entertainment industry, it is easy to see how New York City would be “The City” (also written as THE City).

Anyway, for the part of the country where I live, San Francisco is “the City” and that makes Oakland “the Town”.  (I’m not making this up.  I actually read this recently in a local paper.)  Since today’s prompt was “my town” I decided to go out into “the Town” to get some shots of a few local iconic sites.  There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of things I could have taken pictures of, but I decided to limit myself to three basic concepts.

On the southwest edge of Downtown Oakland, near the Lake Merritt BART station (a name that has always amused me, given it’s distance from Lake Merritt) is a smallish community college campus, which happens to be the location of my swimming classes.  The main, most identifiable building on the campus is a three sided structure, roughly nine or ten stories tall.  Tall enough, that with an unobstructed view it is visible from quite a distance.  If I had been out late enough, I would have attempted some evening shots as well.  The script sign at the top of the building is repeated on all three sides and created out of green neon lights, making the building distinctive, and distinguishable even after the sun has gone down.

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Arguably the most notable and iconic sight in the Downtown Oakland skyline is the Oakland Tribune building’s clock tower.  It’s visible from all directions, again if your view is unobstructed.  Also created using neon lights, this time in red, the Tribune sign at the top of the tower is visible day and night.  There’s a long, rich history, I’m sure, but unfortunately, I don’t personally know anything notable other than the fact that one Sunday afternoon a few years ago, an employee of the paper climbed up to the clock tower and jumped to her death and since that’s not an uplifting story, we’ll just move on to the pictures.

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Next I made my way to the Port of Oakland where there were lots of things to take pictures of.  The iconic view that I wanted to capture was that of the cranes used to off load the shipping containers when the cargo ships come into port.  The entire area is surprisingly bustling with 18 wheeler tractor/trailer trucks rumbling around constantly.  I was standing on one street corner with my camera at my eye, positioned just so and ready to take a crucial picture when a truck pulled up along the curb in front of me completely blocking my view.  The driver got out, detached the trailer from his rig, then climbed right back in the cab and drove away.  That shot was not to be had.  But that’s okay because it forced me to walk a little further down the street and ended up with a better vantage point of what I wanted.

While I’m sure this is anything but common knowledge around the country, it is commonly held lore around these parts that some of these cranes were George Lucas’ inspiration for the design of the AT-AT Walkers seen in Star Wars: Episode V, The Empire Strikes Back.  (I am a bit disappointed to have just read this article which seems to definitively debunk that theory.)

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Of course, my town wouldn’t be my town without the equally iconic views looking out.  From my vantage point at a public park located in the midst of all the activity at the Port of Oakland, I was able to get some nice shots of “the City” (my City – or so I wish!).

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One last shot worth sharing.  This sign was posted at every pedestrian and mobile entrance to the park.  Guess what I spent the entire time avoiding walking in…

No Dogs Allowed posted at every entrance to the park.  Spent the entire time dodging petrified dog poop.

No Dogs Allowed posted at every entrance to the park. Spent the entire time dodging petrified dog poop.

Starts With G

Have I already bitten off more than I can chew?  Hmmm.  I wonder.

The Fat Mum Slim Photo-A-Day prompt for January 2nd is “Starts with G” which seems simple enough.  Who can’t find plenty of things that start with the letter G?  Only, I ended up with eight photos, all of things from around the house.  I actually took more than eight, but after I downloaded them and did some basic editing in iPhoto, I realized some of them were no good so I deleted them.  Actually several of the ones I deleted were duplicates of the ones I saved (’cause you always take multiple pictures in order to get the good one, right?  Right.)

Anyway, after staying up most of the night last night, and accidentally sleeping all day today, followed by going out for dinner with a friend and not getting home until around 9:00, I didn’t have a lot of time for taking pictures.  Here’s what I came up with:

First up is my swim goggles.  I wore these goggles twice a week, nearly every week from August to December as I took the “Fundamentals of Swimming” class at the local Community College.  I nearly drowned twice before I was six years old, once in the Pacific Ocean when a large wave crashed ashore, knocked me over and then began to drag me back out to sea as it receded and again at my father’s apartment complex when I fell into the deep end of the swimming pool.  On both occasions my father immediately pulled me to safety, but the experiences traumatized me enough that for a long time I was afraid of the water altogether, and once I got over that, I was not willing to get into any water where I could not see the bottom and could not stand up.  I finally decided it was time to conquer my fears and to learn a means of exercise that I would actually enjoy doing.  After one semester of swim classes, I can safely say “I know how to swim”, but I’m not very good at it and I still haven’t gotten into water in which I can’t stand up.  The next session starts up on January 22nd and I hope to make vast improvements during this next class.

Anyway, after each class, I would bring my bag home from the pool and unpack my gear, take my goggles into the bathroom to rinse them off and hang them from my bed post to air dry and be ready for the next class.  They have been hanging from that post since early December because I haven’t been in a pool since the class ended.  Along with the new piercing I vaguely (or not so vaguely) eluded to the other day, I also have a new tattoo I’ll share about sometime later.  Both instances of “body modification” needed to be mostly healed before going into a public swimming pool, essentially exposing “open wounds” to the potential soup of other peoples’ bacteria we’d all prefer not to think about when we go for a swim.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

Swim goggles hanging from bedpost.

The next two pictures go hand in hand.  One is my glasses.  I made a very unspecific reference to these when posting something completely unrelated several weeks back, but as of mid-October, I am officially a full-time glasses wearer.  I picked these glasses while my eyes were still dilated which is certainly a risky proposition.  I had some assistance from one of the opticians in the vision center, but I wasn’t completely sure what I’d be getting when I went back a week later to pick them up.  I must have done a fairly good job, because when I arrived at work later that day, no one seemed to even notice that anything was different, as if I’d had the glasses all along.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

My first ever full-time wear glasses.

The other picture is of a mirror that hangs behind my front door.  The mirror has hooks along the bottom from which I have always hung my sunglasses.  I have multiple pairs so that I could always match the color and style to the clothes I was wearing that day.  The sunglasses have been rendered somewhat obsolete by the introduction of the glasses in the picture above and a pair of prescription sunglasses.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Mirror with sunglasses on hooks.

Some of the other pictures I took are pretty self explanatory.  A few G words around my kitchen:

Gas flame from my stove.

Gas Flame

Gas Flame

Double Gs:  Green glass sweet and dry vermouth bottles in my bar.  And a bonus G:  The green label on the back of the Apple Puckers bottle you can just see on the bottom right side.  

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

Green Glass Vermouth Bottles.

And a green Starbuck’s label on the front of a plastic reusable cold drink tumbler with a green, plastic, reusable straw.  Heck it’s even “green” in the environmental sense.  Boom!  Triple Gs!

Green Starbucks Label

Green Starbucks Label

In my bathroom, there is grout between the 12 x 12 marble tiles that make up my floor and shower surround.

Grout.

Grout between tiles.

And finally, still starting with G, the kind of “green” we all know and love, money.  As a Bartender, I come into possession of many small bills so this is not a terribly large some of money, it’s just the money I had left in my pocket when I came home tonight.

Green Money.

Green Money.
“You don’t want to know what I have to do for $20s.”