First Snow of 2006
This, of course, AFTER I paid the kid to shovel a half-inch of ice.
My sincerest apologies for the mini-break in blogging. I just needed a little down-time from the computer for a while. These days I spend almost every waking moment in front of one monitor or another, so I thought it would be healthy for me to just unplug the damn thing for a while. Alas, I'm back.
Here are some highlights of my offline respite:
--Lots and lots of sleep.
--Had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Tim's house.
--Logged about 50 hours of American Chopper.
--Watched a few movies.
--Went grocery shopping--by myself.
--Paid a cute neighbor boy to shovel my sidewalk.
--Went to the doctor and GOT MY CAST OFF!!!
--Got a new cast put on 5 minutes later.
And, well, here I am again. Another month of being a gimp in a cast. Oh joy. But seriously... I'll try to keep the complaining to a minimum. Thanks to everyone that dropped me a note concerned about my unexplained absence. I promise not to do it again. Well, this week at least.
Thank you for your recent letter about the construction on your house. I wanted to send you a quick note to apologize for my fellow neighbor(s) and their reprehensible problem solving tactics. I had absolutely no part in the creation of the anonymous letter, nor have I ever spoken to anyone in the neighborhood about the subject of your home.
Obviously, like any good neighbor should, I support timely and unobtrusive construction projects to maximize the value of our neighborhood; however, having done considerable construction on my own home, I also understand that delays happen and that most of us do the best we can to get the job completed. I can only assume you are doing the same.
If for any reason you need my support in combating these cowardly objectors, I would be happy to lend a hand. It would be the least I could do to make amends for such an awful introduction to our neighborhood.
I wish you the best of luck completing your new home and look forward to welcoming you to the neighborhood in person.
[Note: The only thing I hate more than messy neighbors is RUDE neighbors. This woman has got herself a new ally in the fight against obnoxiousness.]
Today I received a letter in the mail from one of my new neighbors. Apparently, they've been remodeling their house for a while (not the one I've been taking pictures of), and someone took it upon themselves to drop them a little note. Click for larger versions:
First, the original, anonymous note:
Then, her response (which she must have mailed to everyone on the street):
I can't believe this. I'm going to craft a little note to her to add my two cents. I'll post it tomorrow.
Just pondering some of life's little highlights...
--I sat two boxes away from Luciano Pavarotti at Carnegie Hall (Kathleen Battle performance).
--I held the door for Jack Nicholson as he entered the travel agency I was leaving.
--I climbed the highest man-made structure in the Yucatan Peninsula.
--I attended a wedding for 350 in the Grand Ballroom at the Plaza Hotel.
--I spent two weeks as training at the Olympic Training Center (Water Polo).
--I got a high-five from Matt Biondi after he broke an American record in the 50 free.
--I went backstage at The New York State Theater at Lincoln Center (Sound of Music).
--I coached an 8 year-old who at one point held the fastest 50 Breastroke time in the country.
--I spotted, rescued and resuscitated an 11-year old girl who had a seizure in the pool.
--I got to drive my Assistant, Mesha, to the hospital when her water broke in the office.
What are YOURS?
Lawn Mower: Who the hell are you?
Motorcycle: I'm his favorite toy.
Weed Eater: That can't be true or you wouldn't be in here.
Motorcycle: Well, he can't ride me now because of his ankle. Plus, it's cold.
Lawn Mower: Likely story.
Motorcycle: Well, at least he didn't outsource me, I'm just here temporarily.
Weed Eater: What do you mean, "outsourced us"?
Motorcycle: Haven't you heard the blowers and raking? It's a LAWN SERVICE.
Lawn Mower: Oh my god. He couldn't have...
Weed Eater: I TOLD you this wasn't a new condo.
All the recent thoughts about death have prompted me to get off my ass and make a will. I've always paid lip-service to needing one, but I've never been motivated to actually put one together. Until today. This afternoon I downloaded Quicken's Willmaker Plus and spent the better part of three hours walking through interviews about who I want to take care of my stuff, what to do with it, and documenting how I want things to happen just before and right after I die.
This is a lot harder than I thought. I had almost no easily-accessible documentation of my accounts and assets. All that stuff is in my head, and it would be almost impossible for anyone in my family to find the details of my 401Ks, IRAs, bank accounts, investment accounts, stock options, mortgage information, insurance documents, etc. etc. It's amazing how easy it is to forget these things when you forward your online statements into an e-mail folder that you never open.
And then there's how I want my funeral to be conducted. One of the things that really upset me about Jesse's funeral was that the word "gay" was never uttered. Boy Scouts, Ford employees and high school friends were all specifically acknowledged. But his gay friends, even while making up at least 25% of the audience, sat in silence. I would hate that to happen at my funeral, regardless of who might squirm in their seat. Putting this information down on paper, and designating a trusted loved one to carry it out, is very empowering.
And don't forget the Health Care Directive. If Terri Sciavo taught us anything, it's to document who you want your caregiver to be, and how you want him/her to make life or death decisions for you. It's hard, because it cuts to the very root of our personal belief systems. And as I began working through the various scenarios and answering the questions posed, it was clear that my stance on mortality is quite different than that of my family's. I feel better having put it all on paper, and I look forward to talking with my sister about it. She's the one I've designated to make sure my nurses are hot, and to hit me in the head with a rock when I start to drool during reruns of Golden Girls. Poor thing.
Finally, details, details, details. Does someone know where you keep your personal papers? Do they know where you hide the key? Who knows the account number of that old 401K from ten years ago? Who should they contact when you die? Where is your address book? What's the password to that account? Who is your doctor? What are your health conditions? Business interests? Debts? Real Estate? Lord, it's overwhelming just to think about it, much less document it. Still, it needs to be done.
Now quit playing around. Go make a will. It'll be the best $40 you ever spent making life easier on your loved ones.
If the number of people that attend your funeral is any indication of how well you lived your life, Jesse Lamison was truly a great person, even at 21. Last evening at the visitation, we waited in line for almost a solid hour to view his body and pay our respects, and even then, the wait was interrupted by a scheduled Boy Scout ceremony (Jess was an Eagle Scout). We figured that well over 500 people came to visit, from all walks of life: Family, Boy Scouts, Ford Plant employees (his job), and many friends both gay and straight. It was inspiring for me, and I hope it gave his family at least a glimmer of solace.
This morning was the service, and honestly, it was the most emotionally exhausting thing I've done in a long time. It was standing room only, even with additional chairs lining the aisle and foyer. And there wasn't a dry eye in the house. His aunt, with whom he was very close, spoke lovingly and eloquently about her favorite memories of him. Then his precious niece (maybe 6 years old) bravely told the crowd how much she loved him and how she always liked it when Jesse came over to do his laundry. We all smiled at that--it was a much needed break from the awful lumps in our throats.
His uncle also spoke, followed by his Mom, who could only choke out a few soft but tremendously powerful words of love. His 16 year-old brother also said a few words amidst tears. It was the single hardest thing for me to see during the whole service. He ended with a tearful "I loved him," and I sobbed. Much like I'm doing right now. I can only imagine their grief.
The precession to the grave site was awe-inspiring. We estimated that close to 100 cars were in line. I thought about taking a Peek Pic of all the cars, because it would have been a good metaphor for how much Jesse was loved by so many, but I decided against it. All the people that matter were in the line with me.
During all of this, I thought a lot about my own mortality, and what might be said about my life, or who might attend my funeral. I'm well aware that your circle of friends tends to get smaller as you age, but I couldn't help but be inspired by all the people there to morn his death. I can only hope to have as many friends and supporters as Jesse did. I walked away from Jesse's final resting place today with one last gift from him--the desire to live better, to be friendlier, to be a positive influence, and to live my life to its fullest.
Rest in peace, Jesse. I won't ever forget you.
[I've turned off comments for this post. I'd like to keep these thoughts, and my memory of this day, completely undiluted. I hope you understand.]
--I really, really hate changing jobs. I hate the job search process, the uncertainty of what I might be getting into, the fact that I might need to move, etc. However, I'm coming to the realization that I may be reaching the end point in my current position. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to stay aligned with where the company is going or how it's being managed. My most respected peers and colleagues are no longer there. It's been almost six years. I think it's time.
--For the last couple of months, I've been trying to convince my long-time friend Tim to consider moving in with me for a while. He's recently made some very positive life and career changes that will allow him to pursue his goal of becoming a freelance artist; however, his current living situation isn't well-suited to that goal, so I've offered my little abode as an interim step in his road to fame and fortune. I think I've almost convince him, so stay tuned.
--Tonight I'm going to Jesse's wake/visitation with a few friends. I'm not really going for closure or for any type of post-mortem spiritual connection. My sole purpose in going is to show his family that the gay community in which Jesse lived and socialized also loved and cared for him. I only wish we'd do a better job of supporting each other while we're alive.
--I'm thinking about making a list of things I want to do and/or experience during 2007. Not a list of resolutions, but a fun list, like taking a camping trip, taking a class of some kind or traveling somewhere. I'm often talk about doing fun things, but never do them for one reason or the other. Maybe making a list and making it public would get me more motivated to do them. More to come on that...
As I was taking a short lunch break today, I flipped on the TV to see a stolen Kansas City Plumbing Company van (or something like that) leading a 15-car police chase across Kansas and Missouri. It was being covered live on every channel; each had live helicopter coverage for the duration of the chase--just shy of three hours.
So I get to thinking...
Three solid hours of television coverage on three, maybe four channels, complete with flashing red and blue lights, close-ups of your company logo and absolutely no complicity in the crime. The driver drives slow, doesn't crash into anyone, doesn't have a gun or a prior record. Surrenders peacefully with no struggle--he's out in 6 months max. Mysteriously, his closest relative now has a tidy little sum sitting in a Swiss Bank Account.
And there ya have it. The perfect recipe for a hot, new advertising trend: CARJACK MARKETING. Coming soon to a Los Angeles freeway near you. White Ford Bronco not included.
Things that make me happier when I'm sad...
10. A fresh haircut: high and tight (like my men).
9. A good tan.
8. My mom's homemade cookies.
7. A huge cup of coffee and a
6. A playful romp with Casey Bear.
5. Some "alone time" with XTube.
4. A long telephone conversation with my sister.
3. A new magazine in the mailbox.
2. A mid-day nap.
1. Sitting on the motorcycle.
Runners-up: Running around naked, taking a shower standing up, scratching my ankle, walking without the aid of a crutch, going on a motorcycle RIDE.
I had a pretty rough weekend. When I wasn't sleeping (which wasn't very often), I occupied myself by flip-flopping between feeling sad and feeling sorry for myself. I think I cried six different times in the last two days. And I hardly ever do that. My emotions are just completely on edge.
The first time I cried, embarrassingly enough, was during a show called "It Takes a Thief" on The Discovery Channel, when a mother cried over having her house robbed. I felt her pain. The next time was just an hour or two later watching "The Dog Whisperer" when a family's pet died of old age. I empathized. All the other times I was thinking about Jesse, either looking at his MySpace page, or chatting with a friend who hadn't yet learned of the accident.
The truth is, my feeling down isn't all about Jesse. We certainly weren't close friends, just casual acquaintances, really. But with everything else I have going on in my life right now--the cast on my leg, the inactivity, being basically trapped in my house most of the day, crappy weather, my job sucking lately, etc. It's a lot to deal with.
But today is a new day. I'm brushing myself off. Picking my head up. Keeping my chin up. Moving on. Trudging forward. Making the best of it. I'll keep on keepin' on. Not sure there's anything else I CAN do. All I know is that this too shall pass. This too shall pass. This too shall pass....
As I watched the news this morning, I learned that last night about 3am, a young man I've known for almost three years was killed in a car accident. He apparently lost control of his car while merging onto I-35 near downtown KC. Reports say that he was wearing his seatbelt, but that the crash was so severe, the seatbelt failed and ejected him from the vehicle. I can only hope there was no pain.
I met Jesse at an after-hours party. He was quite the wild child, usually fairly tipsy with a cigarette in one hand and a cute boy in the other. I'm not sure I ever saw him at a bar where his shirt didn't come off at least once in the course of dancing the night away. On more than one occasion I'd fall victim to his playful sneak-attack kiss, where he'd sneak up on me, grab my head and plant one on me. Blond, cute with an enchanting smile, I never fought back. Now, I'm so glad I didn't.
This news has left an awful sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost to the point of nausea. I've made some calls to arrange for flowers to be sent to his family, and if they have a service open to friends, I will absolutely go to pay my respects. I suppose it's the least I could do. I can only imagine his family's grief.
21 years old. Gone. I'm going to go cry now.
At first, I couldn't tell what it was. It looked like a huge brown caterpillar with sharp yellowish feathers sticking out of its back. I tried to get a closer look, but it scurried along the baseboard towards the patio door. I panicked, so I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a broom. My Mom was standing on a small footstool dressed in a nightgown, chopping a head of lettuce. When I ran back to the creature, it flattened itself and slid under the door.
As I opened it, I was in a very old but well-maintained gymnasium, where kids were packed in the bleachers for some type of performance. Large exhaust fans turned slowly at the opposite end of the gym. I found myself standing in a crowd of country music stars: Dolly Parton; George Strait; Reba McEntire. They were waiting in line to run out to the middle of the gym floor to dance; Riverdance style. But it was too hot in the gym for me and I snuck off through a side door.
Then I was in my Junior High locker room with only a towel on. My college water polo team was there getting dressed. I tried to sell each of them locker space at $100 a locker, but everyone ignored me. Frustrated, I jumped into the shower where a older but good-looking man was furiously masturbating. His chest hair was trimmed into a perfect sphere, and he was soapy from head to toe. I watched him from the corner of my eye until he was about to orgasm. My alarm woke me up before he did.
--I cannot WAIT for election day to get here. Not because I'm dying to be part of the democratic process, but because I'm so tired of the endless political ads--on TV, on the radio, in my mailbox and countless calls on both my home and office number. And the worst part is, the ads are so trite and blatantly misleading that I don't even bother listening to them. It amazes me that other people do. Wait, do they?
--I went to see Augusten Burrough's "Running with Scissors" Saturday night. It was a solid A- movie, I recommended it. Unfortunately, it's hard to capture Burrough's wit and humor on the screen, but they did a pretty decent job of bringing out the nuances in the characters. Go see it if you get the chance.
--Although it probably wasn't such a great idea, I tried driving this weekend. Turns out, it's not as difficult as I thought. I only went a couple of places (mostly related to food and fake suntans), but I don't think I'll make it a regular practice. It was nice to get out of the house, though, I felt like I had a day pass from my cell. Next step: motorcycle! (kidding).
--There's a show on TLC that is showcasing a young Indian boy with 25 fingers and toes. The interesting thing about it, though, is that they're completely functional and look perfectly normal. Most of the time when you get extra limbs they're sticking out of the side of your head on in the middle of your back. But not this kid--he's typing faster than everyone in his school and the best football player on his team. You have to wonder: The first to evolve?
--So apparently the new James Bond is getting rave reviews for Casino Royale, despite almost categorical rejection from the majority of Bond purists. What I think is so ridiculous about that is that there is really such a thing as a Bond purist. People: It's a m-o-v-i-e. Fiction. James Bond isn't real. Oh, and did everyone see how Out Magazine ran the James Bond theme throughout the entire issue last month? Every article had some relevance to the Bond motif. Kinda cool, if you're a James Bond fan. If not, it sucked.
I really can't decide how I feel about the Ted Haggard scandal. On one hand, it's nice to see hypocrisy exposed in such an egregious fashion. Karma surely had a hand in that. However, his behavior isn't exactly good press for the gays, either. Drugs and prostitution isn't exactly something we'd like mainstream America to associate with gayness. Especially overweight, 49 year-old prostitutes espousing marriage rights. Gimme a break.
But I'm going to keep watching this story unfold. Because only in America will people buy the story that a sex-starved preacher can snort $200 worth of crystal meth and ONLY get a massage. In fact, I'd like to see that replicated in a laboratory setting. I don't think it can be done.
Before I got my cast put on, I never expected that:
--My "good" leg would get such a workout. Standing in place on one foot is HARD.
--I'd ever drive a three-wheeled Rascal around Target.
--My balance would be so shitty.
--I'd miss driving so much.
--I'd be sitting on the floor of my shower (sober) with a plastic bag over my leg.
--I'd be willing to go for so many days without a shower.
--I'd not be able to carry even small items from one room to the next.
--Wood floors would be so slippery.
--Stairs should be taken slowly, with extreme caution.
--Taking a leak on one foot was so hard. (You KNOW you're gonna try that.)
--I would bitch and moan so much.
I am a prisoner in my own house. I can't sleep. I can barely make it up and down the stairs. It itches. It hurts. It's swollen. I don't want to bathe, or shave, or eat, or do anything. I hate this. I REALLY hate this. This makes the Invisalign pain seem like a cake walk. Or in my case, a cake limp.
Someone bring me a hacksaw.