Wednesday, October 11, 2017

National Coming Out Day

Today is National Coming Out Day.

I remember years ago when I was so excited about NCOD because I knew how important it was for GLBT people to be visible.  Each year I made it a goal to come out to at least 1 person.

But in my case, I really only had 1 conversation where I directly came out by saying "I'm gay" and that was with my family.  All the other times I simply worked it into conversations so that I indirectly came out and the person to whom I was speaking wasn't put on the spot.

What I mean is, when you make the proclamation "I'm gay" you kind of make a big deal out of it and the person then must have some reaction or response.  This can make them uncomfortable, not because you're gay, but because they've suddenly been put on the spot.

I prefer an indirect coming out which doesn't require an immediate reaction or response.  For instance, I'd say "Last night my partner and I tried that new Thai restaurant..." or "This weekend my partner and I are going to NYC for his birthday.  I love NYC - have you ever been there?"  To me this is the least confrontational way to come out because you get your point across and the person to whom you're speaking can choose to acknowledge it or not.

Although some people may be a little slow on the uptake.  Years ago I introduced Spouse as 'my partner' at a work holiday party and the person to whom I introduced him said "Oh, what kind of business is it?"  I replied "He's my domestic partner."

I was surprised to see this article on Facebook, written by an out gay professor, suggesting we abolish NCODI totally disagree with his 'logic' that the act of coming out further perpetuates that being gay isn't normal, and that straight people don't come out because being straight is normal.  I would say that straight people don't come out because they're the majority and never worry about being discriminated against for being straight.  GLBT folks are the minority (although at least 10% of the population) and are constantly concerned about hard-won rights being stripped away, and being discriminated against in employment and housing where that's still legal.

A friend posted this from his employer's website and I found it worth sharing:
Today is the 29th celebration of National Coming Out Day. We celebrate the bravery of those who have the courage to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally. Why do we need to honor coming out? Many people are unaware of how frightening it can still be for people to “come out”.
Did you know?
• 1 out of 4 LGBTQ youth say the community in which they live is not accepting
• Being LGBTQ is illegal in 72 countries
• According to the FBI, LGBTQ are the most likely targets of hate crimes in America
• Over 100 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in 2017
• 41% of the transgender community attempt suicide versus the 4.6% national average
• Many who identify as LGBTQ are ostracized from their family, schools or employers
• Only 20 states have LGBTQ employment protection laws
Coming Out is incredibly personal and brave and living openly isn’t something that is done once, or even for one year. It’s a daily journey of living authentically and having open dialogue.

I encourage everyone to live authentically, come out whenever and where ever you can, and be a vocal advocate by contacting your representatives when anti-GLBT bills are up for discussion/vote.

Friday, October 06, 2017

Meeting Armistead

Wed I left DE early enough to miss most of the DC rush hour traffic.  I decided to stop at the Trader Joe's for some goodies.  That place was like pumpkin overload!!  I've never seen so many products made from or flavored with pumpkin.  But since I love 'seasonal' merchandise I picked up a box of pumpkin Joe-Joes, some pumpkin biscotti, and some pumpkin spice coffee, as well as several other non-pumpkin goodies.

Then I drove through the old neighborhood where Spouse & I 1st lived together.  The house is still there, but is cuter now that they painted the siding a soft lilac and the shutters and front door a medium lilac.  Its not everyone's taste but I thought it was adorable.  Great memories.

Then I met up with our friend Roger (of Bugsy & Roger) for an early dinner at Taco House!  The owners changed the name to Cantina Mexicana years ago but it will always be Taco House to us.  The weather was sheer perfection so I chose a patio in the shade on the patio.  We had a delicious dinner then walked to the metro.

We arrived at the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian a bit early so we sat outside and enjoy the stellar weather and the beautiful facade of the building, meant to look like a pueblo.  
 Eventually we went inside and took our seats, eagerly awaiting the lecture.

Armistead Maupin was introduced and then received a standing ovation before uttering a word.  He began by stating that this book is a memoir, but that as readers learned about the people close to him throughout his life, they'd likely see characteristics of many of the "Tales of the City" characters.  He did a short reading (probably 5-6 minutes), then spoke a bit more.  Several of his extended family were there so he introduced his 2nd reading by saying to them that they will enjoy hearing his words of appreciation about his grandmother.  The 2nd reading was probably 20 minutes in length, and then he opened up the lecture for questions from the audience.

I can't accurately describe what it was like, except to say that his calm and gentle demeanor were exactly what I expected, and that I felt so connected to him that it was as if I was listening to an old friend I hadn't seen in a while but knew well.  It was kind of magical.

He thanked everyone for coming and received a 2nd standing ovation.

We filed out of the auditorium and were directed over to where Armistead was sitting at a table for the book signing.  Roger & I waited in line for 45 minutes but it was totally worth it.  They didn't take our books from us to be signed and then wisk us away quickly.  Oh no... each person was allowed to talk with Armistead while he signed their book. Maybe because we'd paid $30 for the lecture and book signing?
I said "At the risk of sounding like a 13 year old girl, I have to tell you that I'm a huge fan.  Honestly I don't read a lot but I've read every one of your books and just love them.  Hearing you speak and meeting you now is a bucket list item for me."  He was very gracious and thanked me for my kind words.  

Then as we shook hands I said "Oh, and please don't stop writing!!"

While I absolutely love all my Armistead Maupin novels, this memoir is extra special to me because he signed it and because of the extraordinary experience of meeting him.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

New book

Look what arrived yesterday!
I pre-ordered it months ago on Amazon, and received notification that it would arrive on Tues, the official release date of the book.

In case you're new here, Armistead Maupin is my favorite author.  I love all of his "Tales of the City" novels, and also his novels not in the "Tales" series. My blog's title is a tribute to his fabulous body of work.

This new book is a memoir, so I'm looking forward to finding out more about his childhood experiences and life influences.  Maybe we'll learn about some of the inspirations for the characters in his novels.

And what could possibly be better than a new Armistead Maupin book?  

Getting my new book SIGNED in person tomorrow evening!  That's right - I'm going to a lecture and book signing tomorrow evening in DC and expect to have my book signed by Armistead.

I.  

Can't.  

Wait!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Rescue me

A colleague of mine runs a kitten rescue, part-time.  She finds temporary foster homes for abandoned or surrendered kittens, gets them healthy and up-to-date on shots, and find forever homes for them.  Its a noble thing to do.

Once a year her rescue holds a fundraiser at a local restaurant, and since Spouse and Steven & Thad and I had been talking about trying to do some new/different things, I talked them into going to the fundraiser last evening.  

They were skeptical, imagining a bunch of 'crazy cat ladies' there wearing sweatshirts with kittens hanging from a tree branch saying "Hang in there!"  But I told them there was a buffet for just $15 and a silent auction, and that we needn't stay any longer than we wanted.  They reluctantly agreed to go.

Of course, it wasn't just 'crazy cat ladies', there was quite a mix of people/ages.  The food was actually good and we ran into a few people we knew, although we all agreed NOT to 'check in' on Facebook at the kitten rescue fundraiser.

However, 99% of the silent auction items were kitten/cat themed so none of us felt obligated to buy tickets... until I saw a $50 gift card for a nice restaurant we like.  So, to help out the poor little kitties I bought $5 worth of silent auction tickets and put them all in the box for the gift card.

Thad didn't want to wait around for the auction results but I lucked out and they started the auction with the $50 gift card.  They called out the winning ticket number but no one claimed the prize.  They must have already left.  So they pulled a 2nd ticket, called out the number, and it was mine!!

All the way home I got to tease them about not wanting to come to the 'crazy cat ladies' fundraiser and now we have a $50 gift card to use.  It was a fun evening.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

TV room update

Our TV room used to have ivory-colored furniture with red accent pillows, red curtains, and red rugs.

Several months ago we donated that furniture and got a burgundy reclining love seat in its place, and after Spouse's mom passed, Spouse wanted her burgundy reclining chair.  But despite changing the furniture, we never changed the rugs or curtains.  For months its been bugging me that the red curtains and rugs clashed with the burgundy love seat and recliner.
Before
Last week I decided to do something about it.  I began looking at rugs on Amazon Prime, sifting through the hundreds and hundreds of options.  Eventually I stumbled upon a color/size/price combination that was perfect!  I showed it to Spouse and he agreed, so I immediately ordered 2.

The rugs arrived and I immediately rolled them out.  I like the pattern and colors even more than I thought I would!
After
In fact, it was quite by accident that I discovered the rug actually has the purple and turquoise colors found in the 2 occasional chairs that are also in the room.  This made me even more pleased with the purchase!

Now if I could only find some new curtains to replace those hideous red ones!  I've been searching Amazon Prime and other sites, but haven't found anything yet.  Grommet topped curtains are all the rage but I can't use them with our hardware.  86" length curtains are also much more abundant, but I need 63" length.  I know, I could by 86" length grommet topped curtains and cut off the tops to make them 63" with a rod pocket, but I don't feel like paying someone to do that after paying for new curtains.  Hopefully my patience will be rewarded.

So the curtain search continues, but we're SUPER pleased with our rug updates.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Fins and friends

On Sat there was the gay car club's annual car show in town, and I happened to have the day off.  Steven & Thad and Spouse & I met up with Joe P to look at the beautiful cars on display.  (Big Ella was not one of them, since I don't belong to this Washingon DC-based car club.)

The car show seems to have less and less participation each year.  I'm not sure if its because of 'politics' within the club, or the cost of the weekend's show/banquet/awards, or what but it seemed like only about 40 cars.  The year Big Ella was in it the show had over 100.

But we did see my friend Bill with his Chrysler Newport and our friends Marty & John with their 1958 and 1959 Edsels, so that was nice.  And we took these cute photos.
Steven & Thad

Spouse & me
Later that night after I performed in the Legends show, I met up with Spouse, Steven & Thad at a local nightspot where several of the folks from the car show were hanging out, and I got to talk more with some of them.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Homecoming day

Today is the 2nd anniversary of Walter's Homecoming Day!

Rather than 'adoption day' which sounds so legal and sterile, I prefer the term Homecoming Day as it is the day he came 'home' to us.

Walter remains an energetic, affectionate, wonderful dog and I couldn't love him more.  He's been a great brother and playmate for Marvin too.

So, to celebrate Walter's Homecoming Day anniversary, here are some adorable photos of him, at various ages, in no specific order.  (Cut to me gushing over my little love bug.)
2 days before he came home

2 years ago, the day he came home













Monday, September 18, 2017

Sean & Jeffrey

This evening we had the pleasure of celebrating a birthday dinner with Sean & Jeffrey!  

They planned a long weekend with friends Ken & nearby and invited us to join them for Jeffrey's 50th birthday dinner at Dos Locos.  Of course no birthday at a Mexican restaurant is complete without the birthday boy being serenaded while wearing a giant sombrero.
Selfie of Jeffrey and me

I should have looked at this photo of Sean and then taken a better one
We had a great meal, delicious cocktails, and fun conversation.  Then we went over to the house they'd rented for more cocktails and delicious, gluten-free German chocolate birthday cake.
Sean ordered this from a bakery who delivered it right to their door
I'll admit we were all a bit unsure of how a gluten-free German chocolate cake would turn out but it was super tasty.

As Spouse & I were touring the house, we both felt some deja-vue.  Then Spouse said "Isn't this the house that Pete & Alex rented a few summers ago for Alex's birthday?"  Sure enough, it was!  How weird that we'd been invited to the same house twice by friends who'd rented it for a birthday!!

We had a lovely visit with the Breens and promised to not let so much time lapse before we visit again.

Friday, September 15, 2017

April & Denny

Last week I heard from my cousin April that she and her husband Denny were going to be spending a long weekend in our fair little hamlet.  She asked if we were going to be in town and if we'd like to get together.  Of course I said yes!

It has been at least 5 years since we've seen each other, at a family wedding.  We live about 6 hours apart and we've had no other occasion to be in her neck of the woods.  I would have seen her 2 years ago at the celebration of life for her mom/my aunt, but unfortunately I was unable to make it.  Needless to say, we had a fair amount of catching up to do.

The 4 of us met up at a cozy little pub and had cocktails and talked for quite a while.  It was relaxed and easy.  Its amazing to me how quickly people who share a childhood history and some DNA can reconnect.  And we didn't just talk about 'the old days' when we were kids, which would have left Spouse & Denny out.  We were really interested in talking about what April & Denny were doing, as well as mine & Spouse's activities.

I could kick myself for not taking a photo of the 4 of us while we were together, but I guess I was just having such a nice time I didn't think about it.  Hopefully next time.

Monday, September 11, 2017

What happened on 9/11/01

Today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11/01, a day that changed America.

In looking through my past posts I can't believe I never wrote about what happened that day.  Maybe because I prefer not dwelling on unpleasant topics?  A few years ago I began posting 'rememberance' posts on 9/11 but I never shared my experience.  Today I'm changing that.

Spouse & I lived in Arlington VA, the same town where the Pentagon is located.  Our home was exactly 6 miles from it, and we passed it every time we got on the highway.  I had been laid off for about 2 weeks and Spouse decided to take the day off "because it was so pretty outside" and spend a few hours with this sister.  Indeed, it was a beautiful September day: sunny, warm but not hot, and low humidity.  Spouse left in my BMW 325i convertible with the top down and I sat down in front of the computer to do my daily job search.

Probably a 1/2 hour later Spouse returned and yelled up the stairs to me "A plane crashed into the World Trade Center and another one crashed into the Pentagon!"  Of course I thought this was some incredible story he'd concocted to explain why he'd returned to the house, when in reality he'd probably just forgotten his wallet or something.

"What did you forget - your wallet?" I replied, sarcastically.

"No, I'm serious!  Come here!" he said with real urgency.  I immediately came downstairs and joined him in the TV room where he'd turned on the local news.  It wasn't some fantastical story he'd fabricated.  It was real.  We sat on the sofa for what seemed like days, trying to figure out what had happened.  It didn't take that long before it was clear the plane crashes weren't "accidents".  By then news of the 2nd tower being hit and the plane crash in PA was filtering in.

"I can't believe this is happening" I said, truly frightened for the 1st time in my life.  "What's next?  How will we know when its over?  Maybe we should get in the car and drive as far away (to the West) as we can" I offered.  But it was too late for that.  News reports were already showing road closures and gridlocked traffic.

Many people who work in the metro DC area ride the metro system to and from work, like my Aunt Mary, Spouse's brother, sister-in-law, and brother-in-law.  But while the metro system was still operational, most people were afraid to use it, wondering if it might be the next target.  No one liked the idea of possibly being trapped or crushed in one of the many underground tunnels.

Cell phone service was spotty with the cell towers being overloaded with attempted calls.  But we eventually received calls from my Aunt Mary, Spouse's brother and sister-in-law.  They were going to walk from their offices to a landmark in Arlington where I would pick them up.  We were unable to coordinate this with Spouse's brother-in-law who'd already begun walking.

As I drove out of our neighborhood I began hearing sirens and seeing the flashing lights of police cars.  Officers were setting up roadblocks on the main roads that would take me to the agreed upon pick-up location.  Several times I had to make an unscheduled turn, drive through a residential neighborhood, cut through a business parking lot, and even drive across a lawn and off a curb when I got trapped.  I was literally trying to beat the officers from closing me out of the area I needed to get to.  A trip that would normally take 10 minutes took me nearly an hour, but I eventually got to the rendezvous point and picked up our family.  Spouse's brother-n-law actually walked all the way to our house (more than 6 miles) where his wife (Spouse's sister) was waiting for him.

We remained glued to the TV for several days, hoping to hear answers.  All commercial air traffic was suspended for 5 days (I believe) so it was rather eerie for us to hear fighter jets occasionally pass over our home.  Spouse's mother was in Italy and due to return home that day.  Her vacation was extended not by desire, but by necessity.

In the days and weeks following the horrible tragedy there was a strengthening of America.  For a while there were no Democrats or Republicans; just Americans.  There were no rich or poor; just people grieving losses.

Each year on this date I'm always a little worried another terror attack will occur on the anniversary.  Fortunately its not happened, although many other terror attacks have occurred since then on other, seemingly unrelated dates.  Its become clear to me that terror will never end unless there's a worldwide commitment to peace and understanding.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Happy birthday Thad!

Today is our friend Thad's birthday.  But since its in the middle of the week, we celebrated it a few days early, over the weekend.

Spouse made chicken breasts stuffed with cream cheese and garlic, a roasted vegetable salad, and a mocha cake.
Its weird that the cake looks kinda pinkish in color.  It was actually brown!  Spouse made the icing with chocolate and coffee to get the yummy mocha flavor.

Derwin & Carolyn came too, along with Derwin's daughter Sydney and Carolyn & Derwin's daughter Quinn.  Thad is Quinn's godfather.
Since the weather was so nice we ate and spent the entire time on the screened porch.  I should have taken a picture of how nice it looked with the table clothes, coordinating dishes and glasses, and the beautiful red gladiolas Thad brought, but I didn't.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Labor Day

While summer doesn't technically end until Sept 22, many refer to Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer.  I can't believe its here already; the summer has passed so quickly.

We often have friends visit over Labor Day weekend but this year we didn't.  I was on the schedule to be in the office on both Sat & Sun so we decided not to invite anyone.  Today the office was closed for the holiday.

Spouse & I met Steven for breakfast at 10.  (Thad was at yoga.)  On our way home we stopped at the grocery store, then sat on the screened porch and enjoyed the nice weather.  I'd hoped to go to the beach but Spouse's back has been hurting a lot (spasms and shooting pain) so I didn't bug him to go.  Instead we relaxed on the porch with the dogs, looking at Facebook, online window shopping, and talking. It was actually nice not to have to 'labor' on Labor Day.

That evening we went to Steven & Thad's house for a 'Store bought BBQ'.  Typically Steven & Spouse would make the side salads homemade, but since this was a last minute decision, Steven simply bought the side salads at the grocery store and called it a 'Store bought BBQ'. The store bought salads were a perfectly fine accompaniment to the grilled burgers and hot dogs.  Nothing says American holiday like grilled food!  Oh, and Frito Scoops with Helluva Good dip. We also had a store bought cake for dessert.  I'm sure it was a lot less work than usual for them but just as enjoyable, at least to me.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Ikea and Kerry

Yesterday I drove to VA (about 3 hours) for my friend Kerry's retirement party.  In order to avoid the horrible DC rush hour traffic I left early, which meant I had about 2 hours to kill, so I went to Ikea.

I've always liked Ikea since the Potomac Mills location opened in the mid-80s.  When Spouse & I lived in VA and had a beach home here, we bought dishes and placemats and kitchen utensils and lots of other stuff at Ikea.  We've also purchased 2 TV stands from the scratch & dent section there.

I wasn't looking for anything in particular, but since we've been talking about changing out the rugs and curtains in our TV room, I thought I'd check those out.  While I saw things I liked, none excited me enough to pull the trigger.  However, I did end up buying 2 decorative pillows for $3.99 each, a package of 4 pillar candles for $1.99, and a 'starter' tool kit (hammer, screw drivers, plyers, tape measure) for $7.99 which will make a nice little gift for a 1st time home buyer.  It was fun to browse through the store at my own pace.

Then I went to the retirement party at a community clubhouse.  It still pains me to think that my dear friend Kerry who is 9 months YOUNGER than me is retiring.  Only OLD people retire!!  But actually she had worked for the County school system (Head Start program) for 30 years, and retired yesterday at the age of 53. 

The party was organized by her sister Kelly and several of Kerry's friends from work who are also personal friends.  Several neighbors and friends like me were there, too.  I'd estimate about 100 people came to the party which was very enjoyable.  I took several photos but am just sharing 1 that kind of sums up the general mood/spirit:
Me, Alex, and Maura
It was a really nice tribute to Kerry who has touched the lives of so many consumers of the service she provided, but also influenced so many of her colleagues over the years.  The room was filled with love and gratitude.  We should all be so lucky!