Tag Archives: Morning Pages

In which I get all potty mouth and optimistic on my birthday

3 Sep

Good morning and Happy Labor Day.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in the United States in 1894. I didn’t realize until I did a little research that the holiday was fast tracked by Congress after the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the U.S. military and U.S. Marshals during the Pullman Strike. The folks in Washington were hoping to avoid further conflict by making Labor Day a national holiday.

I was only ever a member of one union. When I was teaching, I joined the teacher’s union. That’s right, I was one of those “bottom feeders” Rush Limbaugh talks about. But let me tell you, when you face a classroom of teenagers all day long, day in and day out, you really need to feel like someone has got your back.

Anyway, this blog isn’t about unions, except for the whole Happy Labor Day part. So, what is this blog about? How should I know? This is one of those steam of consciousness things I do. No telling where that stream will take me.

My birthday was last Tuesday. I took Monday and Tuesday off from work and had myself a long weekend. That was nice.

On the morning of my birthday, I rode my bike downtown to Chamblin’s Uptown.

I don’t really do commercials in this blog, but can I just say, I love Chamblin’s Uptown? It is an amazing used bookstore plus a wonderful cafe. It was the closest I’ve come to a “Paris-esque” experience since I returned from Paris. But really, I see Chamblin’s as being more like Greenwich Village must have been in its boho hey day.

Admittedly, I am a bit of a literary romantic. Guilty as charged.

I managed to spend seventy bucks on books, and since it was my birthday, hooray for me. Then I sat in the cafe, drank a bottomless cup of coffee (not literally. A bottomless cup holds no coffee–but you know what I mean, right?), ate an egg and cheese croissant and wrote in my journal.

Here’s what I wrote:

It is my motherfucking birthday!

What is significant about this opening line–besides the sheer poetry of it, is that I was actually feeling a little bit elated that it was my birthday.

I don’t get all that bummed out about birthdays, I am usually indifferent. I don’t want anyone to make a big deal out of it, but I do appreciate a simple acknowledgement–a simple, “Happy Birthday!” from a friend is sufficient. But elated? And this was before I had consumed one cup of coffee for every year of my life.  (Or so it seemed.)

Here’s the weirdest part about being so happy about it being my birthday–I wasn’t jazzed because I had just turned 54 as much as, I was excited that I am just beginning my 55th year of life.

I may be 54 on paper, but I have actually completed my 54th year on this planet–at least in this incarnation. (Not necessarily an endorsement of reincarnation, just leaving the door open…)

I know what you’re thinking–you’re thinking I was all a quiver over those senior citizen discounts that will start rolling my way. Yeah baby–cheaper movie tickets, Early Bird specials and the like.

Hey, someone wants to give me a discount for reaching a certain age, Ima gonna take it. But that had nothing to do with my elation.

Frankly, I can’t totally explain it. I just know that, for some reason, recognizing that I am beginning a new year of life, feels rich with possibility.

Maybe it is because my 54th year was such a special one. I stepped out of my comfort zone, actually left my house after dark on more than one occasion, worked on and performed in The Coming Out Monologues, met some amazing new friends, went to Paris. I didn’t see any of that coming when I ended my 53rd year of life and began my 54th. It was just another birthday.

I have a secret fear of being happy. (I guess it isn’t all that much of a secret since I just wrote it.) I can’t say when it began or why, but I do have this inner voice that tells me, “If you are happy, you will be smacked down!”

If things go well, then they are bound to go wrong.

You’re so in love, you get married, but you take your honeymoon voyage on the Titanic.

Or, something like that.

But somehow, passing through the time portal into my 55th year seemed like a really cool thing to be doing. For some reason, it made me happy. I know that life isn’t going to be perfect, but when it isn’t, maybe I shouldn’t take it so personally. Maybe I’m not being smacked down because I am happy. It’s just that, shit happens.

Sometimes good shit happens too!

Happy Motherfucking Monday!

Life is a Medley

18 Jun


I am starting my Monday with a cup of Harvest Medley yogurt and, of course, coffee. The yogurt is pretty tasty.

I am just a sucker for any food that calls itself a “Medley.” Sort of like a “melange.” Serve up a nice medley or a yummy melange and I am there.

Welcome to my morning page, stream of consciousness blog. This is truly one of those mornings when I start typing and see where I wind up.

Everybody’s living for the weekend….Well, I hope not, because we have 5 full days to squander before the weekend rolls around again. Let’s not hurt Monday’s feelings by pining for a different day. People are mean enough to Monday as it is.

I lost my virginity on a Monday (heterosexually speaking.) Also, it was raining. I am a bit more attuned to this fact right now, because I make reference to this event in the monologue I am performing in The Coming Out Monologues. (See earlier blog.) What I don’t mention in the monologue is something I only recently realized.

The particular Monday in question, November 27, 1978, was also the day that Dan White murdered George Moscone and Harvey Milk in San Francisco. Meanwhile, a man I did not know at the time, but would later spend most of my life with–then a stranger, now my significant other, Ray,was arriving in San Francisco with a friend of his. His friend was moving from Chicago to San Francisco, and my significant other, having recently broken up with his girl friend of many years, was along for the ride.

They heard the news on the radio as they drove into the city. Ray turned to his friend, Bill (no relation to me) and said, “That’s a weird welcome to San Francisco.”

Ray’s journey with Bill took him to New York,Washington, DC, Chicago and San Francisco. Somewhere in the midst of all of this, Ray met a lawyer in DC who wanted him to move in with him. Ray went back to Jacksonville to settle some personal business and to see his family. By then it was March of 1979. Our paths crossed. Eventually, Ray forgot about the lawyer in DC.

Chump. I would totally have gone back to DC and moved in with the attorney. Oh, well, there’s no accounting for taste.

Within a few years, Ray and I would move to San Francisco ourselves. We lived there for three years, and then returned to Jacksonville. Several years later, my job would require frequent trips to Washington, DC. I never did meet that attorney who, no doubt, got over Ray a long time ago.

Is any of this as cosmic as my weary brain seems to think it is? Might be the coffee kicking in. The caffeine hits a brain cell and suddenly my mind thinks we’re having an “insight” when in reality, it’s just some chemical reaction going on in my head.

Life is a medley–a melange, if you will–of connections that run between people, places and events.

See how I managed to bring the blog back full circle?

Life is like yogurt–stir it around, you never know what you might find on the bottom.

OK–that last line may have been a bridge too far, but it is a sign I am waking up.

Woo hoo. The coffee is kicking in now, baby.

Happy Monday.

Personal Day

26 Mar

Oh look, it’s Monday and I am not at work.

I am taking a “Personal Day.”

Doesn’t that sounds intriguing? “Personal Day”–what’s he up to?!

What is the difference between a “Personal Day” and a “Vacation Day”? At my company you can roll over up to 40 hours of vacation into January. If you don’t use your Personal Days, you lose them at the end of the year. Personal Days are something you earn separate from vacation. They are awarded to you after 1 year and then you get two more Personal Days after 5 years.

That’s really the only difference between a Vacation and a Personal Day.

I have been with my employer for 7 years. I now get the full compliment of paid time off: 120 hours of vacation and 6 personal days. We also get 48 hours of paid sick time.

I am taking a day off from work and I have somehow slipped into “New Hire Orientation” mode. Sorry.

Damn stream of consciousness…

All of this paid time off is a nice perk. Some jobs give you more. Some less. What a lot of folks take for granted is, there are no Federal laws requiring your employer to give you any paid time off. There is no state law mandating vacation time either. European countries have government mandated vacation time, not so the United States.

In 1910 President Taft suggested that working people would be more effective and energetic if they had 2 to 3 months of vacation a year. Nothing came of it, at least not legislatively.

I’ve always liked President Taft. Not that I remember him–I’m not that old. He is one of the Presidents named William. Two out of the four Presidents named William died in office (Harrison and McKinley). One of the Presidents named William (Clinton) was impeached, but was not removed from office. Him I do remember.

William Taft was the heaviest president ever. He weighed over 330 lbs. Of the Presidents named William, Taft is the only one to get stuck in the White House bathtub. He is also the only former President to go on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which also means he is the only former President to have administered the Oath of Office to another President.

Why am I talking about William Howard Taft? Oh, paid vacations.

So, I am taking a Personal Day. One of the best things about a 3 day weekend is that you don’t get that little let down feeling on Sunday night. Or if you do, you go–“Oh, wait–I am off tomorrow!” and your brain does a happy dance.

Until Monday night…

But until then, I am going to try to make the most of my Personal Day.

Happy Monday.

Night at the Museum

21 Mar

I didn’t oversleep so much as my body decided to remain in Occupy Bed mode a full 20 minutes longer than my finely honed morning schedule should permit. From a blog perspective, the only option is to type faster.

My significant other and I did something that rocked the universe on it’s axis last night–we left the house after dinner. Anyone feel the aftershocks?

It would have been more earth shaking if we had actually gone out for dinner, but the significant other cooked corned beef and cabbage for dinner–a personal favorite of mine. Ray has this cute way of never exactly knowing what day it is and he always pretends to be oblivious to holidays and special events, so he seemed happily perplexed last week when both Publix and Winn Dixie had corned beef on sale. “What’s that all about?”  I like to view this obliviousness as a “devil may care” attitude rather than the symptoms of early dementia, as he has always been this way.

We didn’t eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day–we had Chinese in fact, but we did have corned beef and cabbage and potatoes last night.

Then, to her horror, we put the dog in the laundry room, which is where we put her when we’re going out and she isn’t coming along. The dog was all, “How can you be going out? You already had dinner and it is a school night!” She hasn’t been this perplexed since that Sunday a few weeks ago when I actually did some house cleaning.

Off we went to the Cummer Museum of Art. Tuesdays from 4pm to 9pm, admission is free and there is an exhibit we were both eager to see.

Apparently the museum came into some money since the last time I was there. There were rooms I don’t remember ever seeing before. There was actually more art than we had time to take in before the museum closed, so we honed in on the Japanese woodblock prints and then the exhibit of Impressionism and Post Impressionism from the High Museum of Art.

I love a good art museum and, as you can tell, it had been a while since I had been there. I was really grooving on the adventure of leaving the house after dinner (and on a week night!)–fully knowing that it was bound to be DARK before we returned home. Heady stuff. Then there was the art itself–one transcendent experience after another.

I should have known something would go awry.

My significant other has a penchant for getting into trouble. Yes, people, there is a price to pay for having a thing for “bad boys.” Only a bad boy, gone to seed, could get in trouble in an art museum.

As you may know, I love the human race. Each and every one. But there is one particular group that tends to get on my nerves.

That group would be museum guards.

I am sure they serve a valuable purpose. I am sure the High Museum would not have loaned these priceless treasures to the backwater of Jacksonville, FL without the promise of adequate security. So, at some level, I am sure guards are good. But museum guards have a special knack for killing my art induced buzz.

It began when we were looking at the Japanese woodblock prints. I am transfixed on a scene of Mount Fuji and some clod of a guard walks into that particular gallery with his walkie talkie ablaze with babble. And you know every single person who talks into a walkie talkie has to put their mouth as close to the speaking hole as possible. So not only was some woman broadcasting, she was broadcasting unintelligibly. Which required the guard to respond. Which required her to broadcast some more. In a basically silent gallery, this was a huge distraction.

Thank the Art Gods, the clod moved along.

Then we made our way to the Impressionism show. Shortly after we arrived, a woman guard managed to drop her walkie talkie on the floor. BLAM! My buzz was ailing, if not already dying.

Ray and I walked from painting to painting, taking in each masterpiece. Sometimes leaning in to look at details, sometimes stepping back to get the full effect of the work. I thought that is the way you are supposed to look at art.

I had just finished taking in a delightful Toulouse-Lautrec and had moved on to the next piece. Ray stood before the Toulouse-Lautrec. He stepped back. He leaned in.

“Sir, you’re standing too close!”

We both heard it. We both ignored it. My first thought was, “someone is telling Ray you can’t really appreciate this masterpiece if you are standing too close.” But no.

This museum guard stood beside Ray and began gesturing to demonstrate how terribly important it was that Ray keep a certain distance from the painting. “You have to step back!”

I’m just gonna say it–WTF?

Ray muttered “asshole” under his breath, which is really a shockingly restrained response coming from him. Having known him a few decades, I knew that the wheels were turning and was waiting for the smoke to start coming out of his ears. The phrase, “He’s gonna blow!” came to mind.

We moved along for a little while. I tried to make small talk about the pictures and Ray managed to hold up his end of the conversation. Then he said, “I’m going to go ask that asshole his name!” “Why?” “So I can report him!”

It is difficult to be stern when speaking in a library or museum voice. One tends to hiss. But as sternly as I could, I said, “Do not make a scene! This is why we never leave the house after dark!”

This illogical statement seemed to sooth the savage grump for a moment or two. I began taking in the art again.

Taking in the art. Taking in the art.

Then Ray hissed something: “Look! That woman is standing too close to that painting!” I looked. He was right. I had already observed this attractive blond woman in close quarters with another painting. Here she was again–her face right there next to a painting. Ray and I both looked over at the guard. He was just standing around, looking the other way while some patron committed a serious breach of art observer protocol.

This travesty of justice would not stand. Ray marched over to the guard. I did not hear what he said, as he was using museum hissy voice, but he gesticulated in the direction of the blond lady whose nose was only inches from an Impressionist (or Post-Impressionist) canvas.

I watched the guard walk over to the woman. They chatted briefly, and she stepped back. The guard walked away.

This was not enough for Ray. Oh, no. He had to go over to the blond lady and strike up a conversation so the two of them could  commiserate  about the ridiculous demands of the museum guard.

The woman had a French accent. She was young, blond and quite lovely. She is exactly the sort of person one expects to see when visiting an art museum.

Ray came back to me and told me about their conversation. “She said, (Ray did a bad French accent) ‘But this is how you look at paintings–you look close to admire ze brush strokes, you step back, you look at ze painting!'” (yes, Ray said “ze” instead of “the”–I told you his French accent was bad!)

Despite the altercation with the guard, I managed to find a transcendental moment or two–especially when I stood before a Monet. The museum announced they were closing, so the bad boy gone to seed and I stepped out into the night and drove home.

Who else can get in trouble at an art museum? Besides art thieves, I mean? A cautionary tale for anyone else who is attracted to bad boys. Let this be a lesson to you all.

I suppose this is the price one pays for leaving home after dinner. Life is such an adventure, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday.

Job Interviewing for Dummies

20 Mar

Good morning. Some mornings I come to this little exercise with a notion of what I want to write about. This would not be one of those mornings. So, when I don’t know what to write, I just start typing.

What is that typing exercise about the fox on the box or something? The fox is brown, I believe? Anyone? Anyone? That was actually before my time.

There’s another one about now being the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.

I hear that is what JFK was actually trying to say, but he mangled it and said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Sure, that sounds better from a speechifying point of view, but is it an effective typing exercise?

I was reading an article on things you shouldn’t say at a job interview. Let’s face it, this article has been written before, so how do you spin this topic again?

To sum it up, here are some of the tips the article offers:

Volunteering that your late husband was killed in a drug deal–not a good idea.

Telling the interviewer, “Sorry, I’m having a hot flash” is perhaps too much information.

Letting the interviewer know that you just took a Xanax is a bad idea. In fact, I’d say actually taking that Xanax before the interview is also a bad idea.Same goes for Valium, pot, crack, LSD, meth. Don’t do drugs before the interview. Alcohol is also not recommended.

Don’t tell the interviewer that he or she is cute. Bad move.

Also, at a job interview it is a bad idea to talk about all of the ways your previous boss scarred you for life.

I don’t disagree with what the article says, I just find it amusing that people need to be told this stuff. At the same time, based on my experience as an interviewer of prospective candidate, I know that people do need to be told this stuff. I just wonder if the people who need this information the most are inclined to read an article on how to best conduct one’s self at an interview.

I once interviewed a woman for a customer service position. She shared with me her deeply held conviction that, “sometimes the public just gets on your nerves!” That revelation did nothing to improve her chances of getting the job.

I heard about someone who was interviewed by a panel of people which included his potential new boss and his potential new colleagues. At one point he looked at a long term employee and asked him why, if he had been with the company so long, he didn’t have “her job”–pointing at his potential new boss. That move pretty much ended the whole “potential” thing.

I know everyone’s mom, at some point in our lives, gives each and every one of us the sage wisdom, “Honey, just be yourself!” Remember, Mom loves you. She thinks you’re adorable and lovable when you’re being yourself. Everyone else does not necessarily agree. Sometimes “being yourself” is the worst move possible if you actually want the other person to like you. Or hire you.

I once blew a job interview because the interviewer tried to talk football with me and I just couldn’t hold up my end of the conversation. The job, of course, had nothing to do with football. The interviewer looked visibly concerned and when he called me to tell me they were not hiring me, he said something like, “you’re not a good fit for the job.”

I am sure he was right about that.

All of this would be why, when I do get a job, I grab hold of it and don’t let go. In the past 20 years, I have worked at exactly 3 jobs. Some days I love my job. Some days I don’t. But on the days that I don’t like my job, I remember how much I hate having to go to a job interview even more!

I am kidding, of course! I really do love my job all the time! (Plus, my boss sometimes reads my blog.)

Unfortunately, there is a certain percentage of the population who reads articles like this and takes them to heart. Those people do an outstanding job at the interview and then they get hired. Once hired, they revert to Mom’s advice–“just be yourself.” “What happened to the person I interviewed?” their boss will wonder. Suddenly the promising candidate, once hired, reveals themselves to be someone toting a whole sackful of “issues.”

Method acting only goes so far. Some can act like the perfect candidate at the interview, but once they have the job, it is like sitting down in the living room after Thanksgiving dinner–time to loosen the belt and open the pants!

Job interviewing is where that Vulcan mind meld thing would come in handy. Too bad it is illegal to use the mind meld when interviewing people. Damn government regulations!

I hope these tips have been helpful. Remember, don’t be yourself at job interviews, whatever you do!

Happy Tuesday!

Living in a gay haven (who knew?)

21 Jan

“Jacksonville Among the Gayest Cities” according to The Advocate.

That’s what the headline said. I read it on a local TV station’s news site.

I immediately scrolled down to check out the comments. The comments from readers on the local news sites are always over the top. The  moderator has wisely disabled comments on this particular story. Recently a local news channel’s website did an article about a church that is accepting of gays and lesbians and the commenters went nuts. The first comment read, “God did not create Adam and Steve, he created Adam and Eve.” The second comment read, “God did not create Adam and Steve, he created Adam and Eve.” Then they just got mean after that.

Jacksonville didn’t make the list of the 15 Gayest Cities, but we made the list of the Best of the Rest. We were a runner up, a Miss Congeniality of potential gay meccas. I am a little surprised to hear this. How did we make this list? According to The Advocate, a local high school formed a Gay/Straight alliance 6 years ago and now there are 30 members. A local church (the one mentioned in the paragraph above) has seen a significant increase in their congregation. Also, the U.S. Census recently revealed that Jacksonville has one of the largest populations of gay parents in the country. The Advocate says “Jacksonville has become the haven for gays. lesbians and like-minded folks in the Bible belt.”

This is surprising news to me. The last time I lived in a gay haven was in the early 80’s when I lived in San Francisco. Now THAT’S a gay haven. How surprising to wake up one morning and find out my home town has gotten all gay and haveny while I just went about my business.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A friend was razzing me recently. She wanted to know if Barry Manilow is gay and started to ask me and then said, “Oh, why am I asking you? You’re not connected.” She is pretty sure my gaydar is suspect. I don’t remember how she got this impression. Later, we attended an event together and afterwards I assured her that my gaydar was doing fine and proceeded to tell her that I had determined that two individuals at the event were “of my people.” She was surprised, but it was clear to me. HA–I still have it.

My gaydar may be working, but I was still surprised to learn that I am living in one of the “Best of the Rest” gay cities in America. I really should pay more attention.

Since there were no comments on the TV newschannel’s site, I checked out the local newspaper’s website (Jacksonville.com) and found that they had not disabled the comments What do my fellow citizen’s think of this turn of events? Here’s one:

“Well, time to pack up I guess. Those Islamist guys out in the desert are pretty whack but gotta give em’ a bit of credit on this… not gonna find too many gayest cities in Arabia. Just a thought.”

Later another comment tells this guy not to let the door hit him on the ass on the way out.  Several comments speculated on the sexuality of our current mayor. Then there’s a guy who insists, “you don’t have to be Christian to be sickened by two men kissing. Just a normal chemically balanced average ordinary male.” At least he won’t be putting forth the “Adam and Steve” argument.

Surprisingly, most of the comments were a tad more progressive in their approach. Perhaps there’s more hope for my sleepy home town than I dared imagine.

Happy Friday!

Working at social networking

20 Jan

There’s a lot of buzz about that movie The Social Network. Have you seen it? I have not. I am pretty much going to have to break up with my significant other and start dating again and get asked out to the movies by someone amazingly hot before I am going to actually go to a movie theater again. So, I won’t be seeing The Social Network until it comes out on DVD in February.

The Social Network is almost certainly going to win the Oscar for Best Picture. It is a movie about the guys who created Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg, who is the Steve Jobs of Facebook was Time magazine’s Person of the Year. Facebook is a big deal. Social networking is now a huge part of our culture. Famous people post stuff on Facebook and Twitter and it gets reported in the media. Sara Palin’s tweets make news.

When I first began playing around on the Internet, the first online community  I became involved with was not a social networking site. It was a message board. It was called Is He/She Gay?  I don’t remember how I stumbled across it. The message board was a place for people to post gossip about famous people–specifically to speculate over whether or not Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Jodi Foster, etc. were gay or not. Since it was anonymous, people often posted so called personal experiences with various celebrities (as if) or friend of a friend eye witness accounts about celebrities. If you read that board long enough you found out that yes, pretty much anyone you wanted to think was gay, was gay. But amidst the gossip and silliness, many posters would more or less chat about movies and life in general. A bit of a community formed. It turned out to be ephemeral in the scheme of things, but it was my first experience being part of an online community.

The first actual social network I ever joined was Friendster. I just tried to log back into Friendster for the first time in years and Friendster wasn’t so friendly about having me back. Couldn’t find my email or password. I didn’t really do too much with the Friendster profile.  I don’t think I met a living soul.

Then I joined Myspace.  That was a lot of fun for a while. I experienced my first online drama on Myspace. I also started blogging there. I met some very cool people and some not so nice people. Myspace was a valuable experience. I put that in the past tense, even though I still have a profile there. Since it got a facelift in an effort to compete with Facebook, Myspace has lost its luster. I rarely log in there anymore and when I do, I get frustrated by all of the crap I have to wade through just to get to  the good parts.

Now, like every other sentient being on the planet, I have a profile on Facebook. I also have a profile on Twitter that I set up on a whim but never ever use. Frankly, I may never get the appeal of Tweeting.

Over the years I have, often on a whim, joined a number of social network sites: Linked in, Sparks People, Tumblr, Gaywatch, Daily Om, Gay.com, Library Thing, The Tricycle Community, My Life, Bikedate, and most recently, Friendburst. There are others too, I just don’t remember them all. And don’t ask me what these sites are like because I have spent little time on any of them.

I will join a social network on a whim, but I lack follow through.

In non-cyber life, I am a bit of a loner. Not the kind of loner that shoots people and then when CNN comes around all the neighbors say, “He was a loner!” but a loner, none the less. In non-cyber life, I don’t really socially network all that much. I get invites to events. I just got one yesterday. “Bring your business card and $25 and meet other professionals in Jacksonville! There will be alcohol!”

I have the $25 bucks but I lack the inclination to attend. Even if there will be alcohol…

Perhaps I should make more of an effort. Should I worry that I don’t network enough? Will I one day find myself alone, bitter, wishing I had networked when I had the chance?”You’re too old now! No one will network with you anymore!” will come the voice in my head.

Then I’ll log onto the Internet and find some new social networking site like Oldster.com or Bitter Old Man Burst, and I will feel better. At least for a little while…

Happy Thursday (really? Already? Where did the week go?)



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