Monday, June 29, 2009

Just Hit Save

This is the second post I've started today. The first one died instantly when I accidentally hit refresh before I saved it. And then jumped around to another screen. And set it on fire....Ok, not that, but...
I was lamenting my lack of a laptop and how I would settle for a netbook, even though I secretly will always covet a MacBook. Oh well...
These days I have little say as to what I'm given. When you are living on someone else's dime, it's hard to make demands for nice, new shiny things. Right now, I'm holding out for a netbook, if not outright, then for my birthday in about 2 long months from now. In the meantime, I still have my MacMini and I guess I can use John's PC if I want to go to JavaBoys.
I'm still a little bummed about the newspaper debacle. I'm going to just chalk it up to experience and perhaps, a slightly fruity noggin'. I do remember calling my mom in the middle of it, crying like a silly baby, and she comforted me enough that I could move on. The thing is: I'm 40-something years old and I should be able to direct my life in the right direction. Not just drifting aimlessly and then panic when the waves get a little rough, but to make the right decisions when I need to. I should just stop, reconsider my options, perhaps get outside opinion and then proceed. There's no disgrace in changing my mind or backing out of something if I feel it's getting too confusing. The worst offense is to blindly move ahead and potentially cause all kinds of heartache.
Sometimes, it feels like I was on this road (life) and it suddenly swerved and I found myself in crazy town where the roads go nowhere and cars with square wheels abound. It's very much like bumper cars and I'm the one that can't move, and getting smacked right and left. Only occasionally, can I see the smooth, open highway that I should be on. I need to get back on that highway. I might have to push my car to get there but I can't give up.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When In Daytona

"Superman...I love you Superman...Do it to me Superman...Superman..."
These fine words are from an especially disposable song released sometime around 1978 or 1979. I remember when I first heard it as I was cruising in Daytona Beach one night, on my way to one of the most atrociously, tacky yet endearing gay bars I've ever seen. Whatever tackiness was there during the day while you walked on the beach or on the boardwalk, was there in spades at night. I adored going over to Daytona Beach at night.
It's long gone now, along with its open-air cousin, a "cruising bar" outside that catered to "rough" trade. For the life of me, I can't remember the names of these wonderful places but they were literally right downtown, just across the street from a motorcycle bar. The entertainment for the evening was the "lovely" Billie Boots, an ancient, yet legendary, drag queen who performed on a stage the size of my double bed at home. There was something decidedly bohemian about the whole thing and my memories are extremely fond.
Just down about half a block was an even nastier place with a couple of pool tables and one bar. I can't remember it's name either, but I'm sure I spent more than my fair share of time leaning against the wall, trying to get some attention. So anyway, back to where we started:
The highlight of this place was that they actually had rooms to rent upstairs and, yes, I did find out for myself one night, just how decrepit this crumbling, aging hotel/hostel was. This kid I had picked up for the night was staying there and so we went upstairs to a tiny room, in which an ancient iron bed was crammed into. The bathroom was down the hall. Needless to say, I didn't stay for pancakes the next morning. And yeah, the sex was just as forgetable.
If you didn't feel like going all the way down to the beach side, there was a bar right on US1 called The Zodiac. I remember it because the first time I cruised around the area, I remember seeing the tacky neon sign of a rocket ship. Maybe it was because I was used to neon in front of The Parliament House in Orlando, but something just clicked inside and I knew it was a gay bar. This place was more conventional as gay bars went. It of course had the lighted dance floor, a la Saturday Night Fever and the guys were generally the same as they were anywhere else. My batting average there was pretty good however, as I was motivated to not drive home after drinking all night. This is the place where I met little Bruce.
Bruce was an extremely sweet and cute kid from Canada, living down here in Florida on his parents' dime. We went out for a while and then he moved in with me while I was living out in the woods in my parents' cabin. It was all good, playing house and stuff until I realized he was boring the hell out of me. I wanted my wanderlust back and he had to go. There were tears and threats, but I got him out of the house. I did see him very occasionally in Orlando after that. He still looked yummy, and I even toyed with the idea of a snog or two with him, but he was still too angry at me for anything serious. Last I heard, he had moved back to Saskatchewa.
Unfortunately, his wouldn't be the only heart I would break. I still had Boston to inflict my special brand of "love" on. And this time there were two of them!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From here, you look great

It's the middle of the afternoon and I'm sitting at the downtown library, waiting for John to pick me up. He's picking up some sandwiches and will be here soon. I've been looking online at notebook computers and am strangely ok with a non-Apple product. I think at this time in the now tired war off Apple vs. The World, it's all about value and for me, that cool factor that Apple used to own. Netbooks, those diminutive PC appliances, are really all the rage, and I'm ready for one now. I've seen quite a few already and have my favorites. "But Jeff!" you say. "What about your love for all things Apple? The design, quality, apps?" I say, balderdash. These little babies have that "wow" factor that Apple used to have. Apple had a good chance at this market with the iTouch/iPhone but didn't grab people the same way that netbooks have. I think that Apple should have taken the iPod platform and perhaps made a teeny-tiny mac that it looks like Sony has already done for the PC. For a company that was famous for predicting and then capitalizing on trends in the PC world, this was a misstep. They focused too much on the iTouch, while a good product, is not really a computer/browser. I don't think people were really ready for a stand-alone device that does all the neat things that the iTouch does but doesn't really push the browser part. People were not ready for it. I think they were ready for a tiny PC. And anything Apple does now is going to look a little "me too". So what I think they should do is go ahead and make an awesome mini computer that blows the world away and then get back to polishing up what they've already accomplished. The iPhone was great, the iPod was great...perhaps they are still working on something, who knows? Here's how it plays with me. Currently, I am looking at computers again because the iBook is on its last legs. I would love a small, compact, yet usable computer. I've seen the netbooks and they are pretty damn good. Now, if I can just get old Grumpy to take me to the store so I can get my hands on one, that would be sweet.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Still in the Crap

So, we went to the Pride parade. (Is Pride supposed to be capitalized? Like The Vatican? or WingLoon Chinese?) Saw lots of nice floats, nice looking people and had a good time. However, I have nothing to write about or say. Either it didn't thrill me or I'm still so worked up about my publishing woes, I can't even think straight. I did get a handful of cheap, tacky trinkets thrown to me from the drag queens and stripper boys. By the way, where else would skanky little, cheap hustlers become almost celebrities in this gay world? The one float that stood out to me and I'm sure for others, was the "Wizard of Oz" float. Just your typical characters on a decorated platform with a drag queen Dorothy walking along, swinging her basket. That sentence alone says it all. It was held later in the day, so the heat wasn't so oppressive and afterward we had a nice dinner at the Thai restaurant which was right there in the center of it all. I'll bet they were licking their chops in anticipation for the bump in business. So, all in all, it was pretty good.
So, my little misunderstanding with the newspaper is over and done with and I'm just going to move on. The idea of writing for a newspaper is kind of cool, but I think I might view it more as a job...with money. I think it's time to practice a bit more, either with this blog or some of the other writing sites I subscribe to.
>> Someone here at the coffee shop has one of those wicked cute little Acer netbooks. Now that my trusty iBook has finally bit the dust (I believe), I think one of these babies just might be the ticket for me....<<
So anyway, my writing career is over before it even started. Which, given the odd way my life has gone up to now, does not surprise me. But I will not be deterred. There are still plenty of places online in which to practice my art. Perhaps someday, I'll get another opportunity to work in that publishing environment, which I think I would like very much.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Aw, shoot!

I'm currently in a state of mild panic, brought on by my own doing. I did contact the editor of that website and told him I would only be available for blog posting. So now, tomorrow begins Gay Pride here in Wilton Manors and in order to get something resembling a post, I'm going to have to go. Not that I really wanted to, because I gave that stuff up years ago. Yeah, yeah...show me another drag queen on a float or a bunch of hyper-masculine males wearing jeans and vests. Yawn... Maybe that's the angle to take the story..."Seen it, been there, done that. You got anything original?" Besides, I'm a little under the weather right now. So, poor me.

Oh, just pile it on...

I called the guy from that newspaper/website and told him I would not be able to submit anything for them because I really wasn't able to handle the deadlines, etc., because my brain is not yet working up to snuff. I wonder if it ever will. It's like I'm looking inside and I see some troubled soul with issues and surprise, surprise, it's me. I'm of course, a little bummed out because I thought this was an opportunity for me to break out of the hole I've dug for myself these last few years. I wonder if I've gotten so used to things a certain way, that anything out of the ordinary throws me for a loop. Once again, I'm surprised by yet another side effect of "the brain thing."
Without sounding all depressed and maudlin, my life lately really sucks. Primarily because my mother called angrily not too long ago and laid some edicts on the proper care and feeding of me. She would like me to get a job, however, quite frankly, that idea just terrifies me. The only thing I could probably do right now would pay barely above minimum wage which would mean that would be the level of my co-workers. Also, I'm sure the bossman will be a real peach. Mother doesn't think about that. All she sees is that I'm lounging at home eating bon-bons and sucking at the teat of my lover. Working in that type of environment (and I have) would drive me insane. Here I am some 47ish guy working with 19 year olds for the same crumbs. Oh yes. Can you say shoot me now?
Actually, my mind wandered a little while I was at the library. I imagined that I ran away and ended up somewhere in the midwest. No one knew where I was and certainly could not reach me. I figured I'd stay at some cheap motel for the time being until I got a job. (I know...ironic huh?)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A Disclaimer

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to reveal that the following five blog entries originally appeared on my blog from a few years ago. If you're just starting to follow me, then great, you get some classics from my past. However, if you're a long-time reader, I hate to disappoint you like this but I promise to put up some new stuff soon. In the meantime, you can catch some of my latest writing, yes writing, not blogging over at: EditRed
http://www.editred.com/index.php/My_Ink

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Absolution

I got a call from my previous employer today. We had a nice chat and she told me what was going on and I told her how much better I was feeling now that I didn't have to get up and go to work everyday. I also told her what happened was most definitely a blessing in disguise because it was time for me to finally rest from the chemotherapy and, what I think was more important, get my lazy butt out of the slumming mentality. She told me she knew from the beginning that I was far more talented that I let on and in retrospect, I have been sabotaging my own talents and abilities for a while now. Partly because of fear of failure, or better yet, fear of success. I've realized now what a waste of my life I was making of my professional career, even going as far to convince myself that my best days have past me by. I've been talking and thinking like a loser for too long. The phone call was a much needed shot in the arm for me and I'm really glad she did call. Even if it was in response to a letter I wrote to her last week basically letting her know that I had no hard feelings and I understood the difficult position she was in to contain expenses.
The inspiration to write the letter came to me one morning last week as I was just waking up. There's something about that twilight area that my brain goes to during those periods that allows me to see and wrap my thoughts around things in a very clear way. I knew that I had to write the letter as soon as I got of bed and I did. And I'm glad because I was able to release whatever negativity I was still harboring inside and to spread a more positive karma around the situation and the people involved in it. I feel that I've just gotten a glimpse of the potentially wonderful life ahead of me if I try to anchor my thoughts from this perspective.

Christmas

I'll just say that this was one of the "good ones" for me and I'll remember it fondly. We were able to have John's family over on Christmas Eve and had antipasto salad and rigatoni and his mom had wine. Or actually, the wine had her, as an hour later she was nearly asleep on the loveseat. Nothing says the holidays like getting Mommy drunk.
My parents made the rare trip to my house for the holiday so I didn't have to spend it driving in the car for hours. We got them an extremely nice room at the Sheraton Suites down the road and I suggested they leave their dachshund "Willie" in the room because our condo has a very strict "No Dogs" policy, and that includes guests. So guess who drives up with the dog in the front seat?
"Mom, I thought you were going to leave him in the room!"
"Well, I was afraid he'd start barking and crying. We'll just leave him here in the car."
"You can't do that! Not only will I have the condo board on my ass, but the SPCA will be here for leaving a dog in the car! Just carry him inside."
And so...an hour into our visit, the dog jumps up on my lap and drops a slobbery tennis ball into my hands for some fetch. And then the smell hits me. The most god-awful stinky breath I have ever smelled on an animal and now it was all over my hands.
"Oh my, I think he was licking his anal gland. You know they have to discharge that at the vet regularly. It must be bothering him."
I ran to the bathroom to wash off the offending "Eau de Willie". My mother insisted it wasn't on the couch or rug, but I had to smell anyway. Luckily, it was just his breath, but I wouldn't let the skunk-dog back on the couch again.
We had a wonderful dinner and were enjoying some coffee in the living room, admiring all the presents that scattered the floor. My dad was throwing one the dog's toys to him and he'd run down the hall and back, over, and over, and over. And then the smell hits me. Again. Only this time, it smelled like shit. I thought for a second that one of the folks had cut the cheese but then I saw the extra large Tootsie-Roll wobble over to the tree. The skunk-dog had just dumped three perfect turds on our living room carpet.
"Oh, I knew that was going to happen when he started running around. He gets his little insides all worked up and it just happens."
Fortunately, they were of the firm consistency, so clean up was a breeze. No thanks to John who threw open the door to the porch and then ran out gagging or my parents who were in tears laughing so hard. Some Lysol sprayed and wiped on the offending areas that were breached and everything was back to normal.
Mom and Dad left for their hotel room shortly afterwards, with "El Stinko" in their arms.
"I promise we'll leave him behind if we visit again. Thanks for everything, we had a lovely time."

Stupid Little Twit

I was having a little stress at work over a project that was going to take perfect planning to complete on time. If you knew where and who I work with you'd understand that ain't gonna' happen so I had serious reservations when they took the job on. I was essentially being given one day to prep a 36 page program guide (scanning and more scanning), one day to lay it all out for a first proof and one day to make corrections/revisions for a final proof. In a society that increasingly tolerates just-good-enough-to-get-it-done, I like to pride myself on the fact that I have always gone the extra distance to get it done right, the first time. Of course, that was when I had boundless energy of youth and health. Primarily health, which as of late, has been a little meager. So, I was dreading the very real possibility that I was going to be slaving over something to be finished on time, all the while holding responsibility for the project's success or failure over my head. If you're even remotely connected to the graphic arts/creative industry, then you know what I'm talking about. My dilemma was being physically unable to 'go that extra distance' because of this whole cancer/chemo thing conflicting with my sense of responsibility and being better than the average schlep.
So I went in to work this morning and expressed my concerns over the timetable to complete this project and I got the "we all have to pitch in" response from the elf in charge. Hello? On my worst day, I still work harder than my 'motivationally-challenged' fellow employees, so if I say I may have some difficulty finishing a project on time, then you can be damn sure I'm not bailing on something just because I don't want to work. My health is very important to me right now (duh!) and I hate using that trump card even when I'm forced to. I wanted to take off my hat and say, "Most people can't even work while they're on chemo. Do you think this bald head and lack of eyelashes and eyebrows is a fashion choice of mine? Save the pep talk for someone who needs it, Junior." Instead, I said I would do what I could and that would have to be enough. I wasn't going to take the responsibility. As I walked back to my office, I realized I was insulted by his lack of compassion or understanding of my situation. Not that I need it, but come on, at least be fair.
Perhaps somewhere between the time I voiced my concerns to him and when he returned later with a meticulously laid out mock-up and detailed instructions, along with all photos and ad pages to be scanned, I thought maybe he did get it and 'went the extra mile' to make my part of this project easier. Or maybe it's just a coincidence that the client was extra prepared and he's still a schmuck. The bottom line is that it looks like the project is going to be do-able within the timeframe and without any additional stress on my shoulders. That's a relief.
On my way home this evening, I came to an intersection that had the lights out. Ever since the power was restored, we've had working traffic lights and so it was goodbye to the 4-way stops we were doing for a week while they were fixing things. These particular lights must have been temporarily disabled while they were working on something else, but tell me, how hard is it to remember the rules that apply to intersections without lights, especially since it was just two weeks ago? Apparently, some people have forgotten as I saw one car after another creep up without stopping, horns honking, people waving their arms and one really pathetic loser actually cut off a turning sheriff's car by not stopping. That was sweet. I hope that ticket costs a bundle.
My point is how quickly we revert to our old ways when the initial shock or surprise of something is over. How quickly we want to paint things as 'normal' even though things haven't changed. The last six months of my life still happened. I still had lymphoma. I still am going through chemotherapy. And just because I choose to return to work and try to make my life as 'normal' as possible as part of my therapy, doesn't mean I still don't feel like crap at times or have no energy to do more than walk around the block. So my message to you, Junior, when your temporary compassion for others is forgotten as quickly as how to drive properly: Any time you want to trade places with me, just let me know...

The Way We Is

So, we were watching "The Way We Were" the other night and the montage of flashbacks came on with the swelling music and everything. I sighed like I usually do, he's wiping his eyes like he usually does, and I say:
Me: "That's a lot like us honey. I was a WASP from a whitebread family who fell in love with an intelligent, opinionated, slightly odd-ball ethnic type."
Him: "What?"
Me: "You know, like I was Hubbel, all-American boy who was a closet writer/intellect."
Him: "Are you saying you're Robert Redford?"
Me: "Well, I'm not gonna be Barbra Streisand!"

We're All Just A Bunch of Apes

Today I lost my temper at work. What is unusual is that I never lose my temper, especially outside the safe confines of my own home or inside my car. Today I lost my temper with a fellow employee and I think I dropped the "F bomb" at least three times. In fact, I believe, "Fuck you, old man!" actually spewed from my mouth. Together with much arm waving and throwing things, it looked like two silverbacks at a standoff in the African bush. The only thing missing was Jane Goodall crouching off to the side making notes and commenting, "It appears OldGrumpy is being challenged for dominance by the other alpha male."
Without going into details, two stubborn people with strong personalities butted heads over the completion of a project that was close to being overdue. I sensed earlier today that OldGrumpy was on a roll as one complaint after another were tossed my way. Normally, I just ignore it and let him rant. But today, after about the third or fourth complaint, without a valid suggestion for a solution either, I snapped. The owner's soon to be son-in-law now in charge had this look of panic in his eyes and I heard him mumble, "Ok, guys, settle down." We both ignored him and went at it for a minute or two and then stormed off into our respective trees to sulk.
Luckily, neither one of us stayed mad very long and soon after, we apologized and came up with a solution together. The thing that lingers with me is that I don't ever lose control and yet today I did. It just reeks of insecure, fragile egos of small-minded people who are unable to see the bigger picture. Is this a one-time anomaly or a harbinger of things to come? Am I going to become that same grumpy old man with a short temper that I confronted today? Or did I simply find out that I'm just an ape like the rest of us? An ape with an eye for color and a flair for the dramatic, but nevertheless, still an ape.
Someone peel me a banana...

Two Please

One of the earliest and clearest memories of my childhood was hearing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" playing over a loudspeaker as my mother and I walked into the Woolworth's at the Pine Hills Shopping Center. I remember everything was displayed in bins layed out on flat countertops. Very few things were on shelves, as is everything we find in stores today. The cheap, sparkly costume jewelry always caught my eyes when we walked in but soon my attention and the rest of me drifted to the toy department as soon as I could sneak away from my mother who was busy searching through the sale racks for a new blouse or pair of shoes. I was taking the chance that she would soon come up behind me, yanking my arm and hissing, "I told you not to wander off!" but it was worth it as I stood almost catatonic in front of ceiling high bins of candy colored plastic and rubber balls. There were armies of green plastic soldiers heaped into piles next to paratroopers each with parachutes of thin plastic and thread. Baby dolls perched in rows with their arms outstretched as stuffed animals prowled around the top of the display. I would see a package of eight brightly colored whistles for only 59 cents and excitedly grab it knowing that I only wanted one and that would only cost about eight cents of which I had exactly in my pocket. What I didn't know is that they wouldn't just sell me one.
Even though my hearing was selective when it came to coming when she called, there was one thing that she could say and I would be at her side before she finished, "Come on now, we're going to get some lunch." And that could only mean one thing. The Luncheonette! Gleaming stainless steel panels and spotless white countertops lined one side of the store just behind a row of cozy red vinyl clad booths. We often sat at the counter where I would spin on the shiny stools until my mother told me to stop it and sit up straight. The menu choices were tantalizing. What would it be today? A grilled cheese sandwich with french fries and a pickle? The perfect hamburger with no onions and a little ketchup and mustard on a lightly toasted bun? Whatever I chose it was always with a Coca-Cola in a curvy Coca-Cola glass with crushed ice and a straw. The friendly matronly lady behind the counter with a clean uniform and hat would take our order and then prepare it herself on the grill behind her. There was no back kitchen with a separate cook. These ladies did it all. Took the orders, prepared it, served it and then cleaned up behind us. Sometimes, and this was pretty rare, I was allowed to order a small sundae which my mom and I would share.
My mom was barely more than a child when my brother and I were born and I've always suspected, especially as I got older, that it was occasionally very difficult for her to handle two young boys. That's why I remember fondly these "lunch dates" she and I would have because for almost an hour, she could relax and be lost in her own thoughts for a while. My brother was too young to come along and stayed home with my father so it was just me she had to watch and without my partner in crime, I was practically angelic. No screaming kids running through the house, the phone ringing, my father watching TV with the sound too loud, just her and me sitting at the counter scraping the last bits of hot fudge from the sundae glass at the Woolworth's luncheonette.

The Love of My Life

He is the love of my life, the cream in my coffee and my best friend. He's also a little bit scatterbrained. I think it's because there's so much stuff in his brain already and he refuses to throw anything away, so now with that physics degree thing he's been working on, there's just no room left for rational thought. I don't think there's even room for normal, mundane thought. This past weekend we had a dingbat trifecta:
On the way to see the "Budge and Co." in Boca Raton (about 20 minutes and 6 exits away on the interstate), he gets off 4 exits too soon and when asked why he got off here, "Oh, I'm just so used to going this way. Want to see where I work?"
We're coming home and he says, "Remind me to pull over and get some gas when you see the next gas station." So, about 5 minutes later, I point out a station on the right and he pulls in, unfortunately, he's forgotten what side the fuel door is on and begins to swerve back and forth between the pumps until I yell out, "It's on the left!" Now, mind you, he's had this car for over 3 years and has put gas in it hundreds and hundreds of times.
After getting gas, which by the way, he has to open the door while pumping so he can "chat", effectively letting in not only the stifling heat but also gas fumes, we unexpectedly pull into Publix supermarket's parking lot. "What are we doing here? Do we need something?" I ask. He replies sheepishly, "Uh....for something....but I don't know. I just turned in here out of habit."
His mother has told me often how she always knew that "it would take a special kind of person to live with him."
She wasn't kidding...

The Beautiful Piano Player

We went out for three weeks and I can't remember his name, but I do remember how beautiful he was. He played piano and sang in the lobby of one of the fancy schmancy hotels downtown. I think he was an acquaintance of one my friends so one afternoon we descended upon said hotel lobby for some cocktails and to pretend we were very fancy schmancy too. The first thing I said to my friend as I leaned over and whispered in his ear, "Damn! He's cute! Is he single?" It turned out not only was he single but told my friend later that I was "hot". That's all I needed to hear. I got his number from my friend and called the piano player for a date. We decided on dinner somewhere local—most likely it was this great Italian place in the ground floor of a brownstone with a few tables outside and booths inside. We settled into a booth and did the small talk thing. He was trying to become an actor and was playing at the hotel lobby just as a way to pay the bills. Ultimately, he wanted to move to California and try his luck there. I couldn't keep my eyes off his face—light brown hair, very blue eyes, beautiful smile with white, straight teeth and great skin. The date went well enough and soon we were at his apartment, a converted brownstone that he shared with a female roommate. The place was decorated in the "starving artist" style, which meant everything was secondhand and had a funky, offbeat feel to it. He put on a Michael Franks album and to this day I still think of him when I hear "Popsicle Toes". We had some wine and talked a little and I could tell he was falling for me. I was having a good time but there were no fireworks going off in my heart, still, I didn't object when he invited me over for dinner a few days later.
Wednesday night arrived and I showed up at his apartment a few minutes early. He told me to come in as he was just finishing up in the bathroom. I assumed he was still fussing with his hair or something so I walked in to say hello and instead found him applying the finishing touches to his... foundation. I guess that explains the great skin. I wasn't too shocked as this was the middle of the eighties and even I had experimented from time to time. The date was more of the same, even more Michael Franks. I don't think he played any other album. I ended up spending the night and found out he was another bottom boy hung like a mule. Not that I objected but it always struck me as such a waste. The next morning I awoke not very refreshed as we had slept on a pull-out loveseat. Not a whole lot of room, especially when someone is trying to cuddle with you all night and the mattress was uncomfortable. While he was making us breakfast, it became more obvious that the beautiful piano player felt much deeper feelings for me than I did for him.
Every relationship that I had up to this one, usually ended abruptly as I would very suddenly lose interest in them. This was almost always preceded by the oddest physical trait: I would be laying in bed and from nowhere I would shudder as if I suddenly had the chills. It was almost like my subconscious was trying to send a message to me, "Get rid of him!" And soon, without fail, all the cute little habits began to get on my nerves. I would find an increasing number of flaws and weaknesses. I was tired of listening to him talk and hear about his plans and ours. Most obvious, I lost all sexual interest. It wasn't long until I was giving him the "it's not you, it's me" line and hopefully extricating myself from the relationship. Often there was anger and confusion, sometimes tears.

Sweet Sunday

When I was still a good little Catholic boy, going to church on Sunday morning was a real treat. Literally. Forget the service itself, which I endured, but if you were a Catholic you knew the script already: sit, stand, be sorry, kneel, sit, stand, wait in line for cardboard on the tongue, kneel, sit, feel not worthy, stand, etc. The best part of church, however, was after it was over. On the way home, my mom would stop at Dunkin Donuts and let my brother and I pick out the dozen assorted gems of artery-clogging goodness that we would then hurry back to my father who would be watching Gospel Jubilee on the television. Dad didn't go to church with us as he claimed he wasn't Catholic and besides, he just went last Christmas. My dad's favorite doughnuts were the apple fritters which cost a little extra and were nothing more than dough scraps folded together with a little canned apple filling, deep fried and glazed in sugar. We always made sure to get one for him and as I got a little older I was allowed to get one for myself in some sort of white-trash rite of passage. My mother liked the cinnamon and apple-filled, I liked chocolate frosted and my odd little brother liked the cake(!) doughnuts covered in chopped peanuts. Our little family would gather together on these Sunday mornings, my brother and I on the floor in front of the TV fighting over the comics, my mom in the kitchen starting breakfast, my dad in his chair and a half-empty box of fried dough on the living room coffee table. Regardless whatever else was going on in the world, I knew that at least for now, we were safe and happy. And hepped up on sugar...

Supermom

When I was very young, about four or five years old, I was playing outside with my little brother on the side of the house where my father had parked his boat and trailer. (As long as I can remember, we have always had at least one boat—once we had four!) It was just a small speedboat and he had propped the trailer up with a concrete block to keep the boat level. As you can guess, somehow I found myself under the trailer and boat, pinned but not hurt. My brother ran screaming into the house to get my mother and almost immediately she was there. My mother is not a big woman and at the time I think she weighed just over a 100 pounds. Apparently, she could have weighed 70 pounds and wouldn't have mattered as she with one hand, lifted the trailer to free me and with the other hand, dragged me clear by my arm. I remember hearing the boat slam loudly against the trailer as she let it go. It all happened so quickly that I only remember vaguely her checking me over for anything broken, strained, scraped or otherwise injured and then scolding me to never play around the boat or any boat again. Soon I was in the backyard continuing the adventures of Suburbia Boy as my brother lingered around the sliding doors leading out to the back, still sniffling as he always cried when something happened to me. I heard many years later from my father, that my mother went back out the next day and attempted to recreate her amazing feat of strength. She couldn't even get it to budge...
A few years later, we were accompanying my mother to the bank and post office in our beat up blue Dodge Dart. This meant both my brother and I were standing up in the front seat with no seatbelts (which were aesthetically tucked away in the back of the seat, lest the perfect lines of the expansive vinyl bench seating were disturbed.) We had just finished going through the drive-through of the bank and my mother was pulling out onto Pine Hills Road. Somehow, I had chosen that time to be standing on the passenger door armrest which not only was directly next to the window crank but also the door pull. As she's turning left, crossing traffic, the centrifugal force swung the door wide open with me still clutching to the door frame. Luckily, I had enough sense to hang on and my mother quickly grabbed me back in with her free hand while the other was trying to steer the car. Soon, we were well on our way home, crisis averted. I remember the whole experience as amusing and kind of fun. My brother cried. My mother didn't say anything on the way home and when we did arrive, she told us to go play in our rooms. We were telling this story one Thanksgiving while at the dinner table and my mother revealed that she was fine until we got home and she saw my father. It was then that she started blubbering as she threw her arms around him...
We've had our issues through the years, a lot of them painful to recall, but like water in a stream of jagged rocks, the sharpness has been worn down over the years to smooth stones. She was but a child herself when she found herself with two babies and no owner's manual. Somehow, she figured it all out.
I've gotten my internal strength and resolve from her and more than once, I can hear her words come out of my mouth. She has been a loving wife and devoted companion to my father for 46 years, an attentive and caring daughter, a loyal and thoughtful ally to her friends and, perhaps I should tell her this more often, the mother I love and adore unconditionally.

Harriet The Spy

The other weekend when we were at Budge's house for dinner with his parents, I noticed a copy of Harriet The Spy on the bookshelf. I reached for it instinctively as it brought a flood of memories to mind, namely the journal she kept on everything and everybody. It was this kind of journal that brought a stand-off between this introverted sixth grader and a prissy, embittered teacher.
His name was Mr. Bush and he taught sixth grade at Ridgewood Elementary for as long as anybody could remember. I thought he was just a little odd, but he was a popular teacher and most of my classmates liked him. Looking back, I realize he was a flaming closet queen, stuck in a job he no longer enjoyed and ruled over his classes like a cardigan-wearing Napoleon. I was one of the smarter, if not the smartest kids in his class. Only Mary-Jane Campbell, Queen of the Nerds, was smarter than me, but I was a fraction more popular. That only meant I was picked on slightly less than the foreign kid with a limp.
I carried my spiral bound notebook everywhere, making copious notes on who was wearing what, who was saying what and during lunch, who was eating what. I once even made the scandalous observation that: "Tanya's tummy pokes out so much it looks like she's pregnant!" (Understand now, at the age of 11, I knew what pregnant was, but not that it involved...."S"..."E"..."X"! That explanation would come a few years later while sleeping over at my older cousin's house, listening to that "hippy music" late into the night.) Like Harriet, I thought that the journal and the note taking was a way of making me appear mysterious and interesting to others. I wasn't as popular or as handsome or as athletic, but at least I could be unusual and different. And that would make me unique and special.
It was at recess one day when one of the class bullies decided he'd had enough of my notetaking and took it from me. Within minutes, most of the class was gathered around to see what I had written about them as I vainly pleaded to get my notebook back. Suddenly, in a burst of heretofore unknown bravery, I ran at the kid currently holding my notebook and snatched it free. There was a great chase around the playground, with me trying to elude about a half dozen of my classmates. It ended abruptly when Mr. Bush appeared to take us back inside and I ran to him, looking for sanctuary from my pursuers. Surely he would straighten this out and punish these rotten kids for trying to steal something of mine. It didn't happen that way. Instead, he took the notebook from me and we were all ushered inside to our classroom. Once there, the other kids kept arguing, "He's saying bad things about us in that notebook!" I protested, "But it's my private journal! I'm allowed to write what I want! I never said these things to anybody out loud!" Mr. Bush would hear none of it and instead that I would read aloud to the class what I wrote as punishment for my "sneakiness" and "being a busybody". As it was almost time for school to let out for the day, he decided that I would do this next morning before class. It was as if I were to be held in a kiddie stockade in the center of the playground. Not only would this reinforce the dislike by the usual kids, I was now being put on public display as an outcast. I was horrified.
I went home that afternoon worried of my fate and that night I told my mother what happened. My father was often traveling out of town during the week on business, so much of our life's little dramas were handled by my mother. I was afraid she wouldn't understand what was going on and assume it was just typical schoolyard behavior and that I was exaggerating again. But she did something very special. She believed me and she got mad. She got mad at the teacher and the school. "You tell that Mr. Bush tomorrow that I said you don't have to read those things in front of your class and if he has a problem with it, tell him to call me and I'll tell him myself!" I was overjoyed. I was saved from certain humiliation and scorn. I was saved from a petty, bitter man's brand of punishment. And the best part: I could talk back to this teacher in front of the class and my mom would protect me! I would be the ultimate hero to the rest of the class! I could hardly wait to get to school the next morning.
After saying the pledge of allegiance and the morning announcements from the principal's office over the intercom, Mr. Bush addressed the class. "I believe that you have something to share with us Mr. Adair?" He handed me my notebook and took his seat behind his desk. I was almost trembling as I stood, and instead of walking to the front, I turned and faced my teacher. "My mother said that I didn't have to read this if I didn't want and I don't want to", I said with as much bravery as I could muster. His face looked pinched, his eyes widened and he said loudly, "Oh you don't do you? Well then perhaps a visit to the principal's office is in order for you mister!" And that was it. There wasn't a sound from anyone in the class and only after I was told to wait outside for him did I hear any kind of murmur from the rest of the students. He escorted me down to the principal's office himself, making sure to remark how disappointed he was in this behavior from me, "one of his best students". The rest of what happened isn't as clear but I recall sitting outside the principal's office while Mr. Bush went in and talked to him. My mother did say that they called her at work but she wouldn't tell me what was said, however, she must have given them an earful because soon I was back in class, my notebook in hand, the incident forgotten. I eventually stopped keeping the journal mainly because I didn't want any more hassles. And that prick, Mr. Bush, ended up giving me a "C" that semester, even though I was an "A" student.
Later that night, I did tell my mom thanks for backing me up at school, but I don't think I fully realized the significance of what she did that day. It was the first real incident where one of my parents actually had to step in and protect me. I had always felt safe and loved and cared for, but most kids do and ultimately, we take it for granted. This time, I had the courage to stand up to something that I thought was wrong because my mother believed me instead of the so called "responsible adult". That little prop to my self-esteem became important to me as I developed into an adult with my own opinions and ideas. And, thanks to my mom, I've never been afraid to express them since.

Friday Night Comedy

Tonight after work, I went by the Home Depot (in our neighborhood aka Homo Depot) to pick up a pot to replant a palm tree for the porch. Boring. So I find the pot I wanted, some Aztec-y sun-god thing, and it's heavy! So I'm lugging this thing around because it's the last one and I don't want someone else scarfing it up while I'm looking for those little overflow trays that go under the pots, which by the way, are so last year. It seems the latest thing in catching excess seepage from your foliage are these giant cork coasters. Yeah, that's what I thought too. So I bought six. After one lap around the garden department, struggling with 50 lbs of awkwardly shaped terra cotta, I decided to put it down before I dropped it. As there was this Jamaican women eyeing my prized pot, I didn't want to leave it anywhere, lest she snag it, so I did the only mature thing: I hid it behind some bags of fertilizer when she wasn't looking.
The next stop for the evening was the drugstore to pick up some prescriptions, which by the way, were not ready earlier today as promised. What a surprise! So I'm patiently waiting with my best blank expression on as the friendly but undereducated clerk is attempting to ring up Old Grouchy Gus in front of me, who is getting grouchier by the moment and smells. Finally, it's my turn and *Eureka* my prescription is ready! So, being one of those people who can never just go into the store and leave with what I came for, I decided to browse around, because there was bound to be something I just had to have or needed. With my mouthwash, can of cashews (on sale!), and peanut butter cookies in hand I tried to remember if there was anything I NEEDED. Nah...let's go. So I paid for my useless crap, rung up by a way too perky lady up front, slipped out the front door and hurried home...
Only to realize once I walked in the door was that I forgot to pick up some detergent for the dishwasher as I noticed the ever growing pile of dishes in the sink. Yeah, I know, god forbid somebody in this household washes them by hand! Smart, yet lazy guy that I am decided that just a tiny bit of laundry detergent and a little bleach would do the trick instead of getting back into the car and going to the corner foodmart for some Electrasol. Now any fool knows that regular soap/detergent is too foamy for a dishwasher. How many times have we seen Lucy do it? So I added just a teeny, tiny bit and turned it on. About 5 minutes later, I checked on it and since there wasn't an avalanche of foam cascading across the kitchen floor, I figured everything was fine. A little later, I went to pull a spring-fresh clean glass out of the dishwasher and was treated by the stench of clammy, hot, and UNCLEAN dishes! I guess there's a reason why you have to use more than a tablespoon of laundry detergent to clean anything. I'm sure my physics/science major boyfriend will explain to me why but in the meantime, I'll just shut the door on the dishwasher and hope nobody notices. Oh, and pick up some Electrasol tomorrow....

And He's All Mine

The man that I've spent the last ten years with is, to put it nicely, an odd bird. He's tall, dark and handsome, has an I.Q. approaching genius and is one of the most caring, selfless people I've ever met. He treats me like gold and I could trust him with my life. However...he has a few quirks:
Forget trying to get him to pick up after himself. Before we met, he said it wasn't too unusual for him to just go out and buy some more clothes instead of washing the pile that collected on the floor. And his car! Loaded with all kinds of books, CDs, trash, clothes, etc. I told him it was like a giant purse on wheels.
Eating. He loves to eat. Anything with "ese" at the end of it preferably. Japanese, Chinese, he loves it. And at least one serving of spaghetti per day. He is half Italian. Unfortunately, a lot of it ends up on his clothes. When he gets home at night, I can usually tell what was on the menu that day. Almost all of his clothes have some kind of food stain on them. His current favorite outfit is a pair of camouflage cargo shorts topped off by a ratty gray and white striped tank-top. Yes, he wears this in public. Outdoors. And he will wear a shirt until it literally falls off of him. I kid you not, I saw it happen once.When he gets really sleepy, he starts to ramble, "Very sleepy..." and walks around the house like a zombie instead of going to bed. In spite of all these oddities, or most likely because of them, I still wouldn't change a thing.
Besides, he has to put up with me. And I'm no picnic.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's About Time

I can hear you chomping at the bit...so here's another little story for ya...
--
Something by King
Behind her, the noise escalated. She ducked into the doorway of a store and as it passed, the safety glass in the window shattered all around her into little pebble-sized marbles. Like a powerful gust of wind, it crashed down the street, taking newspaper boxes with it, bending light posts and lifting cars from their parked spots or skewing them wildly across the street. She could hear in the distance, the sound of sirens approaching. She heard a dull scream from the next corner and saw a stroller fly up into the air and land on the opposite side of the street, its wheels mangled and bent. But for now, before the sirens, before the screeching tires, before the tragic moaning, she only heard silence. A clean silence as if something had wiped away all sound like a hand wiping away the beaded water from the hood of a freshly washed car. She stood outside on the street and saw a few people straggling by, their clothes ripped and wet, their faces streaked with dirt, sweat and blood. They were all going in the same direction, towards the sound. As if attracted like mosquitoes, they moved forward down the road. Some people had missing arms and legs, newly ripped from their bodies. The ones with missing legs, either hopped on the remaining leg or dragged themselves along the road. There was no sound however, no moaning, no wailing. Just the plodding ahead of body parts. A police car screamed by, it sirens blaring, the rest of it engulfed in flames. She saw it go up onto the sidewalk, flip and crash into a bus stop, exploding violently. Darting from storefront to storefront, she followed the ones who marched ahead, until they all came to a clearing in the center of the city. A small fountain once sprayed in the middle, but now empty except for a growing crowd of people who gathered within it. There was still no sound from anyone, yet they all seemed to be looking in the same direction. All looking towards the east at something unknown.
She thought to herself, “The entire world has gone insane.” She made it to the area where the fountain was. People continued to crowd into it. Some were pushed back, some fell back, but they kept returning until the core of it was a mass of squirming bodies. She wondered how anyone in the middle of the mass could even breathe. It reminded her of a giant can of catfood, turned upside down. The solid, congealed middle barely moving while the edges continued to shift and change. Again, she was struck by the absence of any words spoken. There was no yelling, no screaming, not even any moaning. Just the almost rhythmical thud of bodies shuffling and scraping on the concrete. And then, without warning, a high-pitched squeal punctured the air. It continued steadily and she watched the people inside the fountain grab the sides of their heads as if in pain. There was a roaring sound and suddenly the people in the fountain were glowing as if lit from below. It was a yellowish light which became even brighter as it continued. And then suddenly, they were gone. All the people who had been inside the fountain when the noise had started, were now gone. Disappeared. Vaporized. The noise had stopped and soon people were clamoring to get inside the fountain again, as if to replace those who had left. Soon, the fountain would be full again and this would continue for the next 30 minutes until everyone was gone. She heard cars approaching from the other side of town now, the low rumble of trucks leading the way towards the fountain. A police car, its siren blaring, was first to arrive. The officer got out of his car and approached the fountain. He reached into it and rubbed his hand against the side. A white powdery substance remained on the sides of the fountain and as he removed his hand, he blew on the powder and watched it float into the air. The girl stepped forward. “I have seen them.” she said quietly. “Seen what little lady?” the cop asked her. “I have seen the people who walk.” she said. “Well, that's just fine. Why don't you come with me now?” the cop said as he walked toward her. As he approached, he placed his hand on her arm and began to lead her to his car. “No!” she shrieked, and ripped her arm away from him with a force that surprised him. He instinctively drew his gun, and said slowly, “Ok, now. Let's just take it easy here. No one's going to hurt you.” She ignored him and began to step inside the fountain. “Ma'am! Ma'am! Please come with me now!” he demanded. She turned to look at him, her eyes blank. The cop looked into the fountain at the woman and saw that her eyes were closed and her head was back. An extremely bright light began from the bottom of the fountain, engulfing everyone. Soon, the squealing began. First as if from a distance but then inside his head. He could feel it in his teeth, and a wave of nausea began to overtake him. He tried to fire his gun, but before it would stop, he would vomit on his shoes, by the side of his car. Wiping his mouth, he looked up to see the last person in the fountain disappear.
By now, he had some backup and as they approached, they could see the cop rise to his feet and begin to stumble to the fountain. As before, there was nothing remaining except for some white powder on the sides.
--
Ok..that's enough for now. I can tell you're scared. Actually, I thought I had finished this story, but, surprise! surprise! I didn't, it just kind of petered out, so you're gonna have to do with this tidbit for now. I will finish soon, or maybe not! Or I might just start another!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Musings on Monday

Geez! Where is everybody? I guess people don't troll blogsites like the good ol' days. I don't either so there ya go... I'm wondering how long blogging will continue. With the advent of Twitter, I think a lot of people who didn't really post a lot are going to be fans. It's the old guard (kinda like me), and Darin and Terry and Michael and scores more that I've forgotten their faces by now. Oh yeah. Heather Armstrong aka "Dooced" I notice she's got the book out now...ya know, that was my idea a long time ago...I just didn't have the traffic she did. But good for her. I'm not bitter. No, really, I'm not.
Again, it's a Monday and I'm currently at the Wilton Manors library after being at the Spanish River library earlier. I wonder what it is about libraries and me? Oh yeah...I like reading and writing and everything that goes with it. And they're nice and quiet. And the free internet is cool. And the Spanish River has a nice sized snack bar... If JavaBoys ever started dealing in books, I think I'd be in heaven. I wonder if that's a feasible revenue stream. Selling books and magazines. It could be like a Borders' "Light". Hmm....the more I think of it, the better the idea gets. I think they would have to expand a little, but it appears they're boxed in right now. Although they could take over some of that club next store. All they've got up front is some bar up front that I don't think is ever very busy. Or the eyewear shop to the right, but I don't think they're moving. They must be doing well. Some might say, "People are gonna dog-ear your books and spill coffee on them." Well, it doesn't seem to hurt Borders or Walden Books. I think they could start small by selling newspapers and magazines and then increase gradually to include some best-sellers as well as featured writers from the area. They could get that hot Dan Renzi to come over and, oh hell, whatever he wants!
So, today my books are: Hitting Hard by Michelangelo Signorile and The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto. I wonder if I'll actually read them both...