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.

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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.

In Over My Head

So I had the second meeting of the writing workshop/class/group/thingy, last night.  I’ve been really looking forward to it and I’m glad I’m doing it, but I’ve been in for a few surprises.

Last week, we met at the leader’s beautiful house in San Francisco where we chatted amongst our selves for a little while, waiting for everyone to arrive and settle in and then the group leader gave us copies of some pages from a book she had.  After she passed the pages around to everyone she began to read selected sections of them out loud to us.  Following along with her and trying to keep up, I wasn’t able to read them myself and I wasn’t able to fully process what they were saying and what I took away from the endeavor was:

“Secrets are lies and lies are truth and truth comes out in writing in the form or your secrets.”

Or something like that.

Then she told us to take a few minutes and write about a secret.

I really didn’t know what to make of that.  I’ve already told the biggest secret I was keeping.

Before we left for the night we selected which weeks we were going to have our stuff read and critiqued by the group.

Over the last week, I received writing samples from three of the people in the group and was expected to read and critique each sample.  I didn’t really know what that meant, exactly, and as I mentioned yesterday, I found that harder than I imagined I would.

I received a chapter from a memoir which was competently written with lots of descriptive imagery and scenery and even showed a bit of growth in the person the memoir is about, but ultimately was just a piece of a larger work.  I wasn’t personally interested in the location and history of the place in which the story happens.  The feeling and sentiment of the character is moving, but not overly compelling to me.  I marked a few typos here and there, indicated an analogy I really liked, but mostly had very few comments to make.

I received a short story, 15 pages, the first half of which I really enjoyed.  Beautiful locale, really well written, with just a couple of stumbling points in my mind, but then halfway through I felt like the story fell apart and she rushed the second half entirely.  Again, I marked some typos, made a few notes and comments, but for the most part, I wasn’t engaged in the story.

Then I received two pieces from the third person.  An 8-page short story that was whipped out in one morning, because she hadn’t expected to have to submit so early and it just played out that way.  Given that she wrote it in a couple of hours and sent it out with not much editing, it was really good.  Well written and executed.  And sad, depressing subject matter.  The rest of her pages were an excerpt from an early stages novel in progress.  There wasn’t much to glean from that in my opinion because it seemed to come from somewhere in the middle of the book and didn’t cover much.  There was nothing wrong with it, it just didn’t grab my attention.

But what really had me worried was when we got to class and the rest of the group started giving their critiques.  We sat in the circle and started with one person, going around the room, each of us taking a turn giving our feedback.  We have a four-minute limit and when that time is up we move on.  I listened as each person started commenting on the imagery and the symbolism and the subtext and so on and so forth and I thought, “well, shit, I didn’t see any of that.  I wasn’t even looking for that.”  I don’t think like that.  I don’t go looking for those things.  If they jump off the page at me, fine, but most of the time I see just what the words say and not much more.  So I didn’t need my full four minutes and I didn’t have much to say and I felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight.  And then I felt like a fraud because when it was my turn to talk, I found myself saying things like, “I really like this story” (I didn’t), “This was beautifully written” (sometimes true, sometimes not.  I mean we’re all competent writers or we wouldn’t be there, but some of the pieces weren’t exactly exceptional).  And then I was trying to give my feedback on the things that I saw that needed work and I was so afraid of saying something wrong that will come across as mean-spirited, when it’s really just an observation, an opportunity for improvement or clarification.

I drove home seriously worried about next week.  I am one of the three people who signed up to submit pages for the next session.  I’ll be submitting chapters 3 & 4 of The Teacher.  They happen to add up to exactly 25 pages, wich is convenient, but also, Chapter 1 has been posted on this blog and read by several people with lots of commentary.  It’s pretty polished.  Chapter 2 was given to two people and both had encouraging positive things to say.  So it only stands to reason that I would move on to Chapters 3 & 4.  But I found myself worried.  What if I’m the one person in the room who doesn’t write flowery, symbolic, laced with subtext, deep, meaningful stuff?  What if they all come back next week and tell me that my chapters are vapid and meaningless, with no substance and nothing to pull you in?  What if I just look like an idiot because I’m not an abstract thinker and that’s what this calls for?

Okay, let’s be honest here.  I know I’m a decent writer.  With the occasional lapse in proper comma use (or is it coma? – See, I’m screwed!) I’m pretty technically proficient.  Spell check is my best friend, unless I’m spelling the wrong word the right way (see coma/comma) in which case it’s of no use to me whatsoever.  But I’m also pretty straight forward and literal.  I’ve never been an abstract person.  Suddenly, I feel like a kid wearing his daddy’s clothes in the middle of a grown up party.

I know everyone will be nice.  And the truth is, people who look for those kinds of hidden, deeper meanings, will probably find them even if they’re not really there.  And all I have to do is sit quietly scribbling notes and nodding my head reverently.  Try not to roll my eyes and, please God!, don’t let me blush.  (That’s a pipe dream.)

I want the feedback and I know I’ll gain something from it.  I just don’t want to feel like too much of a fool.

I’m so in over my head.

The Nick of Time

Let it be known that no matter what time this is posted, I am writing it “today”.  I have managed a perfect record of posting every day so far this year, and I would hate to mess that up, but today has been rather hectic and troublesome and there simply wasn’t time to write before now.

And even now…  I’m sitting in my car outside a very nice house in San Francisco, waiting for the commencement of my second week of the Writing Workshop I mentioned that I would be participating in.  I haven’t really had a chance to talk about it before now and I don’t have time now to do it justice, but it has been interesting (and I’ve barely gotten started.)

The time I would normally have spent writing this afternoon, was instead spent critiquing other people’s writing – something I find I’m a lot less comfortable with than I had imagined I would be.  It’s difficult to critique the work of complete strangers you will, nonetheless, be looking in the eye for weeks to come.

It was especially difficult because I didn’t particularly enjoy much of what I read, which is not to say it wasn’t good, just not my speed.  And so, I needed to critique the work without being too judgmental, or insulting, which wasn’t really so difficult, but more than that, I wanted to be constructively critical, but also encouraging.

I’ve discovered that, while I’ve come a long way, personally, I’m still an inherently negative person and it’s kind of difficult to find positive things to say when I don’t really feel them.  I managed to get them done though.  And since it’s the first week of handing back critiques, we’ll see how it goes and how I did in comparison to everyone else… If comparing is even in order.  It may not be.

I did learn one thing, however.  I should NEVER put this off to the last day, ever again!

Busy Stay-Cation

I usually make the excuse that I write at work because I’m there so much and I have no time for writing at home…  That sounds nice, but since I’ve been off work since December 23rd and I didn’t write a thing between December 22nd and really, yesterday, that’s not much of an excuse.  You’d think there would have been many blog posts during this stay-cation.

This has been one of the best vacations I’ve had in a while, I mean, you know, for not having gone anywhere.  I received an infusion of cash (insurance reimbursement for my therapy bills) just as this stay-cation was beginning which enabled me to comfortably purchase Christmas gifts for all the people on my list to buy gifts for; fancy coffee for my mother, A GPS for Michelle, an Afterglow PS3 controller for Lil’B as well as art supplies for his birthday (which is 12/31), a cordless drill for my oldest niece (this is what she wanted.  Don’t judge me.), a horse game for my second niece and a little plush, radio control fire truck for my nephew.  Everything arrived on time and was properly distributed.  As far as I know everyone appreciated their gifts.  I was concerned that the art supplies would pale in Lil’B’s eyes compared to the controller, but he said he was excited about the art supplies.

I have spent a lot of time at home during this stay-cation, which is fine ’cause it was kind of the plan.  Stay home, clean, organize, generally get things in better shape.  I haven’t accomplished nearly as much as I had hoped I would, but I’ve gotten a lot done and I’m quite happy about hat.  One of my Christmas gifts to myself is something I’ve wanted for a long time but just didn’t convince myself to spend the money on.  I decided recently that I was determined to get the item and so when I got the cash infusion, I took my 20% off coupon and headed right out to Bed, Bath and Beyond where I bought a Roomba, robot vacuum cleaner.

You guys! I’m so glad I bought this thing and I wish I had gotten it a long time ago!  It’s awesome!  It does a very effective job and it requires almost no effort on my part.  I say almost, because I do have to empty the little bin pretty much every day and I do have to push the button to turn it on…  Well I don’t have to.  There is an auto start feature, I just haven’t enabled it.  I also have to make sure there is nothing on the floor to get in its way.  This thing is surprisingly assertive and I have found that I have to make sure that all cords and cables are well out of the way or it will run over them and cause problems.  Though it is smart enough to stop running before it gets too tangled up in something, it will try a bit to vacuum the thing up, before it gives up.  My biggest fear was that it would not be able to get over the lip into the kitchen, which is the messiest room because that’s where the cat litter is, but the Roomba jumps the curb like it’s no big deal.  The other concern I had was how Mischa would react to it.  He has always been afraid of vacuum cleaners and whenever I would turn one on, he would run and hide behind a chair or something.  He doesn’t seem overly concerned about the Roomba which is louder than I had hoped, but far and away quieter than any manual powered vacuum I’ve ever owned.  What’s really funny is that the Roomba, which has a built-in extra-dirt-detection sensor, seems to identify Mischa as a pile of extra dirt and it routinely targets him and heads straight toward him.  Mischa, being the mental giant that he is, just stands there until the Roomba actually bumps into him and then he acts indignant that it came after him.  Roomba has a little side brush which is designed to brush debris away from walls and out into it’s path.  Sometimes this side brush will bump against Mischa’s feet and then he tries to pounce on the brushes.  It’s really quite funny.  But I can run the Roomba everyday without causing any great turmoil for Mischa and that’s what I wanted, so I’m really quite thrilled with my purchase and wish I had done it long ago!  Now I really want a Scooba.  It’s made by the same people and it’s designed to wash hard floors.  The problem is, it says it’s safe on “sealed hardwood floors” and I’m sure mine is not sealed.  Bummer!

 

Michelle had a “lounge” party, on Christmas Eve at her apartment.  She insists it was always a lounge party (wear lounge pants and t-shirts) but her sister kept calling it a pajama party and I swear Michelle called it a pajama party the first time she mentioned it to me.  I pointed out that I don’t wear pajamas and that no one wants to see that, and that’s when she started calling it a “lounge” party.  It was a nice time.  Her three-year-old great-nephew was there and Michelle handed him my Christmas present and asked him to bring it to me.  Somehow, between that time and the time he handed it to me, the paper… ahem… fell off the gift.  She gave me a heated mattress pad, which is something I had been wanting for a while, only, you know how when you build something up in your mind and it’s going to be so wonderful and then you actually get the thing and it can’t live up to the expectations you built…  Yeah, that.  I felt badly ’cause I want to take it back, but I didn’t want to hurt Michelle’s feelings.  When I got over to her house this past Friday to do my laundry (since Saturday was New Year’s Eve) she was in the process of repackaging the one she had bought for herself to take it back.  She didn’t like it.  She let me off the hook and told me that I could return the one she got me if I wanted.  I told her I would probably do that and that I’d bring it back to her (since she had the receipt) and she could take it back and get me something else and wrap it up for me, and then maybe I’ll get to open MY OWN Christmas present.

 

I took Lil’B to Benihana for his Birthday dinner…  Actually it was kind of confusing. I took him, on December 26th and I told him, this is a special dinner to celebrate his Birthday, where he will get his Christmas present, and then at the next dinner on January 2nd, he would get his Birthday present.  I hadn’t been to  a Benihana in many years and while I knew it was a lot of fun, I also thought I remembered that it was a long and drawn out affair so I made reservations for 5:00.  He was out of school so it wasn’t a school night, but I figured we shouldn’t be out too late.  Dinner was over at 6:50 and Lil’B didn’t want to go home yet.  I called his mother and got her blessing and we went to a movie after dinner.  I got to take him to one of my favorite Movie Theaters.  It’s just and AMC theater, but it’s in the middle of San Francisco and it’s in an old building they renovated.  It’s a 12 screen cinema, but there are only four theaters to a floor, and there are three levels of theaters.  Since they are stadium seating, each theater is two stories, so this building is about 8 stories tall and I just find it fascinating.

We saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.  This movie was horrendous!  I mean, truly, truly, terrible!  Now I know, this movie is not geared toward my age group, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first two so it was sadly disappointing to me that I didn’t like this one as much, but on the plus side, there was a moment in this wretched movie that actually made Lil’B laugh out loud and if you’ve been coming around here long, you know what an accomplishment that is.  I’d sit through it again just to hear that!

The next day, I went to therapy, did a little shopping and went over to hang out with my friend Karin and her two kids.  I ended up staying through dinner and had a nice time.  She introduced me to some fancy operations that my iPhone is capable of and I wasn’t even aware… Giving me pause to consider the value in some new equipment purchases.  I’ll have to give that some thought.

 

Friday I went to Michelle’s house to do my laundry and hang out.  I got there early and after I started my first load, she and her great-nephew and I went to breakfast.  The boy was quite rambunctious and energetic.  It was fun though.  He runs kind of hot and cold when it comes to me, well, anyway, hot and luke warm.  Apparently, since he was a baby baby, I’m the only male, outside his immediate family that he would let hold him.  Other men would pick him up and he’d immediately squirm and cry and want to get away and with me, he was fine.  Now that he’s a little older and has a personality, he doesn’t dislike me, but he often doesn’t want to engage with me.  But this day, as soon as I walked in he was all over me, asking me questions and talking to me and wanting to sit with me.  It was almost too much, but it was still nice to see.

 

I’ve mentioned in the past how I do not want to be home on New Year’s Eve.  My mother never went anywhere or did anything and all we ever did was sat in the living room and watch TV.  Theoretically, watching “the ball drop” only my mother was forever surfing channels trying to get away from all that horrible secular music that was always on the network shows.  We would watch something from Washington, DC on PBS, which was always live and therefore an hour early, plus fireworks on TV just do not have the same effect.  From 11:00 to 11:58:30 she would surf around trying to find something that wasn’t rock and roll music and then at the last second (sometimes after the last second) turn the TV to one of the networks.  We’d say “happy new year” and then go to bed.  I swore that when I had it in my own power I was not just going to sit around at home on New Year’s Eve.  This has proven to be problematic from time to time because I hate crowds too, but I make the best of it.

In years past I’ve gone out of town for New Year’s Eve spending a few days in another place away from home and with more excitement than I’ve got here.  Most of the time, New Year’s Eve was just the excuse I needed to go on a trip, but I still enjoyed myself.  I’ve been to Las Vegas a couple of times, Los Angeles a couple of times, Reno a couple of times.  Last year we got a room a the Embarcadero Hilton in San Francisco and had a really lovely evening, but it ended up costing as much as a three night trip out of town.  This year, Michelle and I had 10:00 reservations at a restaurant called Skates on the Bay, which is, as you might imagine, on the San Francisco Bay.  I had never been, though Michelle had a couple of times.  The plan was to have dinner and then stroll out side to the water front where we would watch the fireworks from San Francisco at midnight.  In an all too familiar scene, Michelle was in the bathroom at midnight and I stood by the windows of the restaurant where we had JUST gotten our check and watched the fireworks by myself (le sigh).  It’s okay.  This is kind of terrible for me to say, but I feel like midnight on New Year’s Eve is a moment that, ideally should be shared romantically and I don’t have any romantic feelings for Michelle, maybe being alone at that moment was better.  The fire works display was nice, though I feel like it looses some of its splendor when you can’t hear, and just as importantly, feel them.  The display was the same one we watched last year, which means it was shot off from a barge outside the San Francisco Ferry Building, about six and a half miles away.  I’m always caught a little by surprise at how small they are from what seems like such a short distance.

After dinner, I took Michelle back to her sister’s house, dropped her off and came home.  I would have liked to have been somewhere else for a little vacation and I got a wild idea that may not really be financially feasible that I’d really like to go to Australia for next New Year’s Eve, but as long as my 19 1/2 year old cat is with me, that can’t happen.

Last night was another dinner with Lil’B.  We went to a local place I’d never been to called The South Shore Cafe.  It was very ordinary, but it was something new for both of us and I’m trying to expose him to new things, so it was fun.  We talked a little bit about his birthday.  He said he couldn’t remember what kind of cake he had but that it had Oreos on it.  I asked him if they had ice cream and he said no, so I had to rectify the no birthday ice cream problem.  We went to a local ice cream shop called Loard’s (I learned it is supposed to be pronounced “Lo-ard’s” as it is a compilation of the two founders last names.)  Loard’s is a 100% local company that makes its own ice cream in a local factory and it was really quite good.  When I was looking at the flavors on the board I was caught by surprise and was a little grossed out by “Avocado flavor” but I had to taste it.  It was surprisingly good, although, honestly, it tasted mostly like Vanilla.

 

This morning I had an orthodontist appointment, I wasn’t holding my breath, though I was hoping today would be the big day.  No such luck.  In fact based on the conversation I had today with “Dr. Jeff”, (I always wondered how the staff differentiated between the father and the son, now I know) it looks like two to three more months.  The day Dr. Jeff put them on he told me 12-18 months, this is the 13th month.  On the plus side though, I paid my final payment today and have one few debts hanging over my head! Yay!

 

Tonight I have dinner with an old friend of mine, and tomorrow Michelle and I are going, over-night, to Cache Creek Casino and Resort.  It’s an Indian run casino about 90 minutes north of here.  We’ll go and play for the afternoon, then spend the night in a hotel room, have breakfast and head back.  That’s about as long as I can leave Mischa on his own since he’s confined to the cage and he eats canned food, but it’ll be nice to get a little tiny break anyway.

 

*Oh by the way, I guess I’m supposed to say that despite my glowing report (and despite the two additional people I’ve about talked into it – my mother says I should get a commisison) I am not being compensated in anyway by Roomba, or Bed Bath and Beyond or any other products or merchants I may have mentioned here…  Dammit.

CPT, Part 2

Eighteen years ago, today, I walked across the stage at the Mabee Center, at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa, OK, shook the hand of some random old man, had a picture snapped which somehow managed to make my nose and chin look 18 inches larger (each) than their already gargantuan proportions and walked down the steps on the other side with a diploma in my hand.  I could tell you more about the evening, but, well, I really don’t remember anything else about that day.  It was much too stressful and busy and overwhelming.

Fourteen hours ago, today, Laura walked across a stage somewhere, and shook hands with some old person (probably) and walked back off the stage with a diploma in her hands.  My graduation was from high school; her’s was from college.  I’m very proud of her and her achievement, even if I don’t really know her all that well.

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail invitation from Laura’s mother inviting me to an open house at her home in celebration of Laura’s graduation and I confirmed my attendance.  My assumptions about tonight’s event were slightly off, but only slightly.  This was not a party of Laura’s peers.  Maybe I should have realized that her peers would all have their own family gatherings to attend on this important day and that it wouldn’t be a bunch of 22 year-olds hanging out with the “old guy”.  Instead it was a bunch of Laura’s extended family and friends and former teachers and coaches.  I was still the odd man out, but I wasn’t the oldest person there, by far.  It’s OK.  I anticipated it and didn’t expect anything different.  Laura actually apologized to me– well, Me and Micah and Judy, for not spending more time with us.  I told her, “Don’t be sorry.  This is your day and all these people were here for you.  Most of them have known you longer than I have.  No one could expect you to spend very much time with them.  You have nothing to feel bad about.”

When I decided, I was ready to leave, Micah decided he was ready to leave too.  Apparently that thing about him understanding he had to find his own way home was not so much with the correct.  I asked him where he expected me to take him.  I didn’t really plan on taking him home since it was out of my way.  He mumbled something about friends in The City and I told him, “I’M NOT TAKING YOU TO SAN FRANCISCO!”  He laughed and told me he had said he needed to find out if they were there and I could just drop him at a BART station or something.

I told him I could drop him at the Fruitvale BART station which is right by my house and he said that would be fine. On the ride toward Oakland, he made some phone calls and found out what he needed to know and just as I was about to take the interchange from Highway 24 to Highway 13, toward my home, Micah said, “Um, you can just stay in this lane” in a tone that suggested he was innocently giving me directions how to get somewhere I hadn’t been before.

“I can?” I asked as I turned my blinker off.  “Where am I taking you now?”  Micah kind of hemmed and hawed before telling me he guessed I could just take him home.  “I can?” I asked again.  “Is that what would be most convenient for you?”  We both laughed.  It was sort of an inside joke, as he and I had discussed my issue with Judy earlier in the day.  I decided to go ahead and take him all the way home because we were in the middle of a conversation that I deemed worth finishing.

Judy, apparently, had some issues in her attempt to take public transportation and she ended up choosing to go ahead and drive herself to the party.  She arrived, under her own steam, shortly before 7:00 and immediately launched into her “Woe is me” story of trials and tribulations trying to get there.  I acknowledge that is fairly normal human behavior given what she’d been through.  I also acknowledge that I was already on edge with her and that I may have been predisposed to not like what she had to say.

I noticed something tonight, that I’ve never noticed before, though how I could miss it I do not know.  Judy has to make everything about her.  Every conversation, every story, every interaction, everything, Has.  To be.  About.  Her.  I would start to talk to Micah about something and she’d turn it around to be about her.  I talked briefly to Laura about her day and Judy turned it around to be about her.  Somehow I managed to walk through the house and into the back yard without noticing the photo gallery inside.  As I was ready to leave I noticed some striking photographs of the San Francisco sky line, asked Laura’s mother who the photographer was, and found out that her mother is a professional photographer.  Judy managed to make it about her.

As I pulled away from Laura’s mother’s house with Micah in my passenger seat, he ruminated about whether “we all” would really hang out together now that we are approaching the final week of the EMT class.  I confided in Micah, “I know this is a terrible thing for me to say, but I’m going to say it anyway, because I’m a terrible person.  I really like you and would like to keep hanging out with you.  And I really like Laura and would like to get to know her better.  But I don’t really enjoy hanging out with Judy all that much and I’m kind of afraid it’s an all or nothing kind of package deal.”  I would hate to have my feelings about Judy get in the way of friendships with other people; on the other hand, I could see Judy getting in the way of being able to develop those friendships in the first place.  I don’t know what’s going to come of that.

Toward the end of that conversation I told Micah that there was something specific that Judy had said in the past that gave me great concern about being friends with her.  Judy has a tattoo on her leg of a rainbow-colored ichthus which one night before class Laura asked her about.  Judy told her that it was an ichthus because it’s a symbol of God, and she wanted it rainbow-colored because it represented God’s covenant with Noah and his promise never to flood the earth again.  Laura, just as innocently and endearingly as can be asked, “Is that why it’s used for gay pride?

Judy, rather indignantly in my opinion, said, “No!  They stole it.”  Her tone and demeanor actually reminded me of my mother and I was not impressed.

I told Micah this story… And I told him that I am gay.  And in spite of my best intentions of not caring what other people think or whether they approve, I was nervous; cold and shaking.  Micah, for his part said, “OK,” and moved on with the conversation.  He still wants to hang out and be friends.

I’ve thought of telling him, all three of them, more than once, but I didn’t.  First because I’m just not comfortable talking about it face to face with people, and I don’t know if I ever will be.

But the thing is, as dumb as it is, I kind of don’t want Laura to find out.  I’m still kind of crushin’ on her.  I know it’ll pass.  I know it’s all in my head.  I  know nothing can come of it, but in the back of my mind, the thought keeps coming up that maybe it could and maybe her finding out that “I thought I was gay” will send her away before we get a chance.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’m just enjoying the fantasy.  Lord knows that’s all it is.  Maybe it’s just the idea of being in love and being loved AND being in an “acceptable relationship” (acceptable to society, but even more, acceptable to my mother) that’s so bewitching, but I can’t help feeling like Laura finding out will destroy that fantasy and I’m just not ready for that to happen, yet.

It felt good to be open and honest with yet another person though.