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July 28th, 2016

The Past Is Prologue. Prologue Is A Cold Hearted Mother.

Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, in relation to A Coming Out Story, is how the unique window of time my generation of gay kids grew up in…a time when you could see a better world was possible, and accept yourself just as you are without shame, but still a time when it was very very dangerous to be openly gay…really screwed with us in its own horrible way. You could fall in love with another guy, and feel absolutely wonderful about it. And yet you were living in a world where you couldn’t tell anyone.

Try to imagine how that is. The most wonderful thing ever has happened to you, and you can’t tell a soul. You can’t talk it out with someone you trust, because there is no one you can trust with it. You are walking through a potential minefield of emotions all by yourself. And when something blows up in your face, you still can’t tell anyone.

I inherited mom’s diaries after she passed away. Hardest parts to read are the pages where, years after I graduated, she would write sadly about how her sweet cheerful boy had turned all sullen and angry and how she wished she had the sweet cheerful boy back.

I have an outline of this worked out in the script (if you can call it that) for ACOS. It’s something I’ll go into thoroughly at the end of this next chapter. But I haven’t even begun this next chapter yet and I really need to get there and tell this part of it.

Because I can see a little better now how that past where I had to keep everything inside and I couldn’t talk it out with anyone…not mom, not my friends, not any of my classmates, no one, really really left its mark on me. You can feel absolutely wonderful about that first love, and not even notice how having to deal with it in a world that hates you is cutting you up inside.

And later on in life, when that past comes up and taps you on the shoulder, and maybe throws a pie in your face, you still really can’t talk to anyone about it, because there isn’t anybody you know who remembers that part of your past, and how deeply it affected you, because you kept it hidden. Nobody knew.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Past Is Prologue. Prologue Is A Cold Hearted Mother.

June 16th, 2016

The Ball And Chain You Let Them Put On You

This came down my Facebook stream earlier

vanity_fair-orlando_terrorist

Is it hard to picture a troubled gay guy lashing out at his own kind? When you hate the gay, it’s much easier to attack it in other people than to face down your own demons. Craig Ferguson has been repeating a joke for years that goes something like this: What would we do without gays? Who would design all the clothes? Who would arrange all the flowers? Who would pass all the anti-gay legislation? He always gets a big laugh…

I never hated myself. I came out to myself in a rush of first love and it honestly felt like the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me. Like all the silly love songs and poems, the stars seemed to shine a little brighter, the birds in the trees sang a little more sweetly, and I walked with a lighter more carefree step than I ever had before. It was wonderful. But the wound ran deeper than I thought. 

It was the iron ball and chain of low expectations regarding my place in the world, which I would always excuse as my simply a not having a very competitive nature. I never tried very hard to make a place for myself in the realms of my first loves, cartooning, painting and photography. I kept my artwork to myself, and those few times I did venture out to try and market myself, or find work as an illustrator or photographer, I barely knocked on the door, accepting the first rejections I got as final. In retrospect something very deep down inside of me seemed to know I’d never be accepted in the lands of my dreams. I had no clue what I would do for a living, accepted that I would always have a low income life, going from one menial job to another, renting rooms maybe in other people’s homes if I was lucky, but never a place of my own, never a good job that I loved. That was for other people. I never bothered somehow, to examine why I felt that way very closely. I had an assortment of ready excuses. No college degree. Not very good at self marketing. Maybe I just wasn’t as talented as I thought… 

I stumbled into my career as a software developer purely by chance; the PC and dot-com booms created such a booming job market that anyone who could code even a little was fairly dragged into it. I had a knack for logical thinking that enabled me to figure out how to turn requirements into software, even if it never dared look within as to why I felt so unlikely to succeed at a career. Right from the beginning I got praise for the quality of my work, rose in skill and wage level from one job to another, and ending up working at Space Telescope making six figures. It was a dream come true it seemed. Deep down I was completely scared I didn’t deserve any of it. I think it was only when the director of the Institute handed me a special achievement award at a ceremony a couple years ago that I finally began to really believe I belonged there, among those other highly skilled professionals. I was 60. Somehow it’s still harder to acknowledge to myself that I’m one of them than it was to admit to myself that I’m gay. It still feels pretentious. I have a little Baltimore rowhouse now, in a city neighborhood that is on the rise, and a nice car, and a dream come true job. And my first dreams are all buried in the past. I pursue them now in my basement art room in my spare time.

And then of course, there’s how low self esteem impacts your love life. Some folks just write love off altogether and dive into the one night stand no strings no complications scene. Others of us just stand quietly in a corner with a flower in hand and hopeful expression on our faces and the unkept look of people who forget sometimes to take care of themselves because they know somehow it doesn’t matter all that much. Please love us. Please don’t break our hearts. But the heart was already broken even before you came out to yourself, in that first moment when you flinched away from knowing. Gay Pride only goes so far healing the wound. You have to work at it, you have to dig down deep to really get to all the subtle little places where it still exists, still hurts still holds you down.

If you’ve never heard the term internalized homophobia, and it seems slightly odd to you, welcome to our world. It’s second nature to every gay guy, to the extent that few of us ever completely erase it. Vestiges linger, and catch us off guard when they rear up in awkward moments, decades later…

I never hated myself. Never. But deep down I have always felt like I was standing on the outside of life looking in. You really see it in my art sometimes. Internalized homophobia isn’t always a kind of murderous self hate as it apparently was for the author of this piece. I’ve seen that in other gay people. I think we all have. It’s a real thing. Sometimes though, it’s just the ball and chain on your soul that you just got used to, until you stopped even noticing it was there, and how much of the precious joy of life it was taking from you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Ball And Chain You Let Them Put On You

June 8th, 2016

It’s Fair

Taking a wee stroll through my blog archives, I found this I posted, in a cloud of euphoria, on April 27, 2008

True Friends
A couple of very dear friends tried to do something for me over the weekend that I’ve tried to do a time or two for other friends, mostly straight, but which nobody has ever bothered to do for me before. I can’t go into detail now…maybe some day soon…but I’ve never felt so loved. And even though they didn’t quite manage to pull it off just the fact that they did it it made me feel more alive now, more connected with the life I have, and the things I’ve managed to accomplish for myself, then I have since I was in my twenties. Seriously. I’ve been a sleep walker for most of the last half of my life it seems. I feel somewhat awakened now. More…real.

Life is sweet.

It lasted until I finally realized they didn’t actually give a shit at all…which took six months because even in my fifties I still had a hard time really understanding how cruel people can be when it’s the easier path for them to take. They say that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well…the Joker said it makes you Stranger, but then you find yourself wondering at the end of that movie if he didn’t carve that smile into his face himself because he knew at some point in his life he’d never wear a smile again otherwise.

You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell you that gay kids are still being thrown into ex-gay therapy against their will, or a gay guy will get the crap beaten out of him by a car full of drunken fratboys the night after some republican goes on a TV rant about Religious Freedom, or that tomorrow a preacher will tell his congregation that gays should be executed and someone in the pews will go shoot up a pride day parade the next day, nobody panics, because it’s all part of the plan. But when I say that one lonely old gay man just might find somebody to love, well then everyone loses their minds!

“Oh…and you know the thing about indifference Harvey? It’s Fair.

 

applause

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on It’s Fair

June 6th, 2016

The Rite Of Spring

My spring into summer diet has become such an annual routine now that I can mark the stations along the way. First comes getting past that initial sugar withdrawal. Then the day that eating the bland food I grew up on stops feeling so damn boring and more like an echo of a happy boyhood. Then comes the day I can switch back to my 31″ jeans. That’s when I can look in the mirror and really start feeling good about how I look. At least from the waist down anyway. Too many old man lines in my face now to convince myself I’m still dating material.

But the glory day comes later. I have a nice beam balance scale in the upstairs bathroom. I bought it mail order after I became serious about wanting to get my weight down (which was after I reconnected with a certain someone from my past…at least I can still thank him for this). A morning eventually comes when I am back under 150 and I can move the larger of the two weights on the scale back a notch. That morning happened two days ago.

And now I can look in the mirror and see I have my hourglass back and I can feel comfortable in my low risers and swim trunks and the nice lite summer shirts I haven’t been able to wear since the end of last winter’s holiday feasting. Also I feel better all around, though having weather now that allows me to be more active outdoors is probably a big part of that too.

My ideal weight is between 146 and 148. I should be there by the time I go on my road trip later this month. Then the diet is officially over. I can maintain because my sugar cravings are gone and once the stomach is used to smaller portions I don’t need to stick to the bland food because I feel full sooner. This will last until the temptations of Thanksgiving arrive once more and by December and Christmas feasting I’ll be wearing the flannel shirts and taking the 32″ jeans back out of the cedar chest and putting the 31″s back in.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Rite Of Spring

June 5th, 2016

Looking Into The Gap And Being Afraid

I had an exchange on Facebook just now regarding my rainy day post. A friend congratulated me on my ability to save that much loose change. She had, she said, only managed a jar with $60 in it at one time. It got me to thinking again about something that was in the back of my thoughts as I wrote that post.

I have a decent well paying job. An amazing one actually. I work for the Space Telescope Science Institute. We operate the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA, and I am part of the teams working on developing the Science Operations Center for the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope. I have no college degree, just decades of experience developing business application software and I was hired on to do just that initially…the Grant Management System for Hubble Space Telescope grantees. Even the pursuit of science needs business systems software to track money and progress. That’s what I do. It probably puts me at the low end of the wage scale compared to the experienced flight software developers and the scientists and astronomers. But it’s still a Very Nice income and the benefits package is Very Very Nice and the work environment I live in on a day to day basis is both exciting and deeply soul satisfying. I am a very lucky person.

Even so, looking over that post and the expenses I listed I can’t help but be disturbed at how far out of reach the life I have may seem to others. To myself it just seems like a basic middle class life. And I don’t have a family or kids to support. It’s just me. But as I typed out that list of expenses for the quarter, I could feel the lives of some of my friends tapping me on the shoulder. It was uncomfortable. They all know I was there myself once, and I didn’t think I would ever make it out of living in a friend’s basement, and mowing lawns to make ends meet. I had no idea what I was going to do with my life until I got that phone call asking me to go for an interview for a contract programmer’s job. I’ve been there. But it was still uncomfortable. I hate what’s happened to our country and the working people in it since Reagan promised everyone a shining city on a hill.

The house adds a lot of expense. But I get some pretty big tax breaks just for owning it. That’s not something I approve of out of self interest. Home ownership was a dream I had from childhood. Mom could have bought us one back in the early 60s but the banks wouldn’t lend to a single divorced Woman With Child, even if she had the down payment money and a steady and sufficient income; and that was perfectly legal discrimination back then. I believe that home ownership is a stabilizing social force, that gives people the chance to own a piece of their community and thereby a stake in it. So that’s the kind of thing I think government should encourage. But the thing is it’s not about owning property, it’s about having that stake in your community and the Right just doesn’t get that way of thinking. So home ownership is elevated because…Property Rights! But jobs that pay the sort of wages necessary for home ownership are not considered important. Property is important, people’s lives are not, and community is…is…Communism!  And nowadays I don’t think they want us peons to own our own homes anyway. They want those of us who have one to sell them to the banks via reverse mortgages. God forbid working class families get to inherit tangible property.

So yes, the house adds a lot of expense. But you can view that against the value of the house and how it fixes me as part of my community. It’s not rent money just going down the drain. I know how that is…apartment life was all I knew until I bought the house. Its…my home. The car is another major expense and you can argue that it’s indulgent, but I didn’t buy it because I wanted a status symbol, I bought it because I like having solid things in my life and that’s how they build them. My brother, who knows the value of solidly built things, was saying the last time he visited that if I take care of it I should easily get another 25 years of use out of it. That’s the plan.

But look at how much all that was. It’s stunning to a guy who grew up in the 60s. I just ran the numbers through an online inflation calculator. $4100 bucks is, so it says, the equivalent of $727 in 1972 dollars…the year I graduated from High School. Now that would have been huge to a teenage boy in 1972, I worked an entire summer in 1971, at a fast food joint for $1.78 an hour, to buy a $500 Canon F1, but I would have expected to be able to easily afford it once I got a good job.

But wages have no where near kept up with inflation. That’s what’s killing the U.S. work force today. I am not a wasteful spender, but I do try to buy things that will last and that costs more in the short term. Still…it’s disturbing how much I spend on everyday stuff and how far above the spending power of most folks that is. And I am not living a fabulous lifestyle, just your basic white collar office worker lifestyle. Well..okay…it’s a technical/engineering profession I’m in. That raises the bar a tad. But not all that much really. This isn’t the lap of luxury here.

And I’m glad I bought the house when I did. No way, even on the income I have now, could I afford a house in this area. Even renting would be more expense than I’d care for. When I first moved to Baltimore rents were easily a week’s take home pay. Now I’d have to spend nearly half a month’s income for something basic, small, but good. It’s scary.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Looking Into The Gap And Being Afraid


The Rainy Day That Came…

I have a habit of tossing my loose change into a box on my dresser at the end of every day. The box, which I bought at a Hopkins Spring Fair, looks a tad like an old pirate chest. Even more so when I have it filled with silver coins. I put the pennies in a glass jar next to it that I won from McDonald’s Monopoly game years ago with Mr. Moneybags stenciled on it. When the Mr. Moneybags jar gets full I take it to the coin machine at the grocery store and use the receipt for my groceries. When the pirate chest gets full I transfer some of it to a cigar box and put it away. I also take some money from the ATM out of each paycheck and put it in my safe. It’s good to have a cash reserve on hand in case…for example…you lose your ATM card, like I did last year. When the cash reserve goes above a certain amount I take it to my credit union and put it into my savings account there.

The cash on hand amounts to a “rainy day” fund. Something for unexpected emergencies (like a lost ATM card). But more insidious are the routine expenses that all phase together and turn in to a monster wave of expenses. This happened to me this quarter and my upcoming vacation was suddenly at risk of being cancelled.

There was the thousand bucks spent on the Mercedes since it needed an ATF flush which was $450 in addition to the $500 90k Service. Then there was the $1400 flat roof maintenance on Casa del Garrett. There was the $860 for six months of car insurance (NOT State Farm anymore!). I spent $500 for and eye exam and new glasses. Then my next door neighbor insisted we finally get the ivy off the space between her sidewalk and mine and my share of it was $400. The gardener did a really nice job and at some point I’d like him to finish the rest of my front. But I hadn’t planned that one and I’d have wished the others came a tad further apart.

So yesterday I took the two cigar boxes I’d filled since the last time I needed to raid the cigar boxes to my bank. There was about two years I think of loose change there.

How many people can say they love their bank? I love mine, which was founded by Quakers in the 1800s. They like to boast that during the Great Depression when the Feds declared a four day bank holiday they were allowed to reopen after only one day because they were so secure and solvent. I can believe it. You get a sense of how companies are by how they treat their customers and how happy their employees are. And after how the big megabanks behaved during the Bush economic collapse I came to love my local regional bank all the more…and especially that they have not allowed themselves to be gobbled up.

They give great customer service…including letting me bring my cigar boxes full of coins to them occasionally and handing me back a deposit slip without taking a fee or demanding I roll all the coins first and write my account number on the rolls…like one bank I used to be with ages ago (it was one of the locals that allowed itself to be gobbled up into one of the megabanks). One time I took 13 cigar boxes to my bank and got a slip back for just over three grand. This time, bringing them two, it came to just over $450.

That, plus the cash from my safe, basically saved my vacation. Oh I could have just shrugged and put it all on the card, but I’m at a point in my life I want to be paying down debt, not adding more. And besides, I can’t enjoy a vacation if I’m worrying about what I’m spending all the time.

Rainy day money is good to have. Even better is a habit of putting money aside, even if all it is, is just some random loose change. If you put it away and forget about it it’ll be there for you when you need it. I don’t think I’ve ever dropped more than a dollar in change into the pirate box at the end of a day. But one day I took 13 cigar boxes to the bank and got a deposit slip back for just over three grand. That was probably something like ten years of loose change, but it came in handy when I needed it.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

April 20th, 2016

That Long Lovely Walk From Cradle To Grave…

My sleep/waking pattern is all hosed up. I’m getting up way, Way too early these days, taking brief brutal naps when I come home from work…brutal in the sense that they don’t bring any rest at all…then doing nothing around the house for a bit or taking a walk maybe and then back to bed way, Way too early. I think I see the problem. It’s interesting how a pall of existential gloom can settle in and rust your innards away all the while telling you that its not even there.

It’s not like I have a clinical depression…it’s never been nearly that bad. I follow people, some famous, who are open about enduring that and from everything I’ve learned from them I’m not even close to being in that category. But the stresses of life can still take their toll all the same. It’s worse I think, on creative minds like mine, because our thoughts get so distracted by that creative need, the insistent muse, that we forget to look elsewhere in our lives, and see how miserable we’ve allowed ourselves to become, strangely enough without even being aware of it. But the physical body still pays the price.

I have an amazingly good life all things considering. I did Not expect to have the life I do now when I was younger. And when an important piece of spirit gets yanked out from under me intellectually I just shrug it off. I’m not even trying to be brave about it, I really believe in all logic and reason that by now it doesn’t matter. But it does. It always does. My mind ignores it. It really does. My body feels it nonetheless.

So I’m down here in the art room of Casa del Garrett working on the next episode of A Coming Out Story, so early in the morning because that’s when my out of whack sleep patterns are now insisting I get up, and I know that if I don’t get Something done in the art room now when I have reserves of concentration for sure I won’t when I get home from work, because by then my concentration reserves for the day will be completely exhausted. I’ve done some sketching I needed to do. Fine. Something’s been accomplished. The process moves forward a tad. That’ll do for now. I’ll go back upstairs in a bit and make some sandwiches for work and then take a serene early morning stroll into the office. I love these early morning walks. It’s a pure pleasure of city life I can walk from home to my job. I have some tasks waiting for me that I am already anticipating the pleasure of working on. I love my job. That’s a rare and extremely lucky thing to be able to say in this or any age. I’ll get things done at the office, play my part in moving JWST forward a tad, and take an early lovely walk home. I have a Good life. Then I’ll get home and all my energy will simply evaporate. That isn’t normal. Logically I know this. But I know also that I will just spin my wheels thinking about it. So I don’t.

Something is terribly wrong deep down inside. I know what it is. I’ve known for decades now. I just have no idea how to fix it. I tell myself I’ve finally become use to the idea that this is how it will always be. It’s a new mantra. But there is no stable point in the spiral into the night. You just keep going. Not even being aware most of the time, where it is that you’re going.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Long Lovely Walk From Cradle To Grave…

April 7th, 2016

A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos

Finished (finally!) another installment of A Coming Out Story. This is an Intermission to separate the first part of the story, which I finished with Episode 19, and what’s to come.Some of you may have already seen this one when I posted a link to the finished inks last Thanksgiving. I’ve since added the texturing and shading, and tweaked the dialogue balloons a tad. The shading really makes the artwork pop out I think.

The next part coming up is where the object of my affections and I actually begin talking to each other, and circling around each other in an age when gay kids were getting fed horrible lies about themselves from every direction. First crushes are hard enough for kids to deal with. For gay kids back when me and “T.K.” (not his real name) it was especially difficult. The worst of it was in 1971-72 there was no way you could talk about it with anyone. So you pretty much had to stumble your way around, trying to figure out what was going on inside of you, and then what to you do about this crush you’re having. How can you tell if the object of your affections is feeling the same way. One false move could be a disaster…for both of you.

That said, it’s not like it was a complete and total nightmare for me either. Mostly it was a lot of confusion. I can look back on most of it now with a sense of humor. Hopefully I can put some of that into the story going forward. What’s coming next is a short story arc wherein I finally break the ice with the object of my affections, after being tagged by the student newspaper to cover one of our football games.

But first, I figured I’d toss out here a little intermission of sorts…just to give anyone who’s still hanging on to this tale a wee taste of what’s to come in the second part. Enjoy. And thanks so much for staying tuned!

The Business Of Tacos

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story: Intermission – The Business of Tacos

March 29th, 2016

A Coming Out Story – Still In Progress…

Despite, or perhaps even Because of recent events, I am more determined than ever to continue and finish A Coming Out Story.  So never fear if the installments keep coming at irregular intervals. I have a paying job that needs my attention too. Plus many other things in my life. But this story is important, not just for my own satisfaction of getting it out, but because as I said some time ago, it’s a story of my generation. Not the only one certainly, but mine nonetheless, and worth getting out there. Because while gay kids have it better in many ways now then we did then, they still catch shit about what ought to be one of the most wonderful times in life…that moment when you discover love and desire. It’s a crime against humanity that it is turned into a nightmare for some of us, so that others can build their stepping stones to heaven out of our hopes and dreams. It is a crime against humanity to put a knife into a kid’s heart, just at that very moment they are discovering what love and desire is all about.

So I’m going to keep working on this. And for what it’s worth, I feel now as if I’ve been given permission to tell the whole story, without censoring myself.

Still working on finishing up the Intermission.  Here’s a sample panel. When the whole thing is complete I’ll put a link up to it here and on the main ACOS page. Then I get to start on a more funner mini story arc.

Tacos figure into this one too…

acos-intermission-1

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Coming Out Story – Still In Progress…

March 10th, 2016

Not What It Used To Be

While staying at the Walt Disney World parks I would make extensive use of my annual pass. It basically gives you freedom to wander around the parks without worry about when your tickets expire or which park you’re allowed into that day. So if I was staying at Boardwalk I’d start my morning with a walk down the path to Hollywood Studios…

 

hollywood studios walk-sm

 

…and make my way to The Writer’s Stop to get my morning coffee and a danish. The Writer’s Stop is a nice little coffee shop/bookstore tucked in a corner of Hollywood Studios, themed as a studio writer’s lounge/hangout.  And now it looks like they’re going to close it, another one of my favorite places in WDW, to make way for more Star Wars stuff.  I can’t really blame them. Star Wars is hot right now. It’ll bring the tourists in…and the money.

I’m probably not going back to Walt Disney World, largely because it’s not as much fun if I have to remember the fight I had with a certain someone every time I go back. But there is also this, and I discussed it the other day with a co-worker who is also a big Disney fan: it’s feeling less and less every year like Walt Disney’s World, and more like Disney Corporation’s World.

I think when I started going back in 2008 I was just seeing the last fading light of Walt Disney’s influence on the parks. It was something special to me because I’m old enough to remember watching TV when Walt Disney was still alive and when I walked into Epcot that first time it all came back to me. But in the years since they’ve bought Star Wars and they’ve bought Marvel, and while those are all fun things they’re not necessarily Disney things. I don’t think that much matters to the boardroom anymore. Those of us who still remember Walt Disney are getting old.

It’s still the Rolls Royce of theme parks. The nearest competition can’t even come close. But I wasn’t a theme park kinda guy back in 2008…I only got talked into it by a certain someone, and then, to my surprise and delight, only dived in because I remembered Walt Disney. I don’t need to keep coming back anymore, if it can’t at least still be his theme park.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not What It Used To Be

March 9th, 2016

Summer’s Coming…

I’m feeling Wonderful. Aren’t breakup fights supposed to make you miserable? Well…we weren’t boyfriends, just, for a while, casual long distance friends, never to be anything more than that. But we had a past. I would have walked through fire for him. But not into the closet for him. That turned out to be the sticking point.

Yeah it hurts. But not badly at all, as it turns out. Mostly it feels like I have my life back, like it’s been reset back to before the time I found him again, and everything I had then and everything I felt then, I have back now. I’m not kidding…I’m feeling ten…twenty years younger. (grin) Now if I only looked it.

I came back home and the weather here in Charm City is feeling spring like and I’m really looking forward to summer. It’s stunning to realize I wasn’t before. It was just something that was out there. Now it feels like the open road beckoning. Like life always felt.

IMG_0017

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Summer’s Coming…

February 29th, 2016

Dreams…

I just woke up from what was probably the most wonderful dream I’ve ever had. And no, I wasn’t having sex. Actually, since I hit 30 I’ve almost never had dream sex,

I was asked out on a date. That’s never happened to me in real life. Never. I’ve always had to be the one who asked. And usually I got the you’re a nice guy Bruce but it just wouldn’t work answer back.

I won’t go into the details, but me and the object of my affections were both teenagers in this dream, and he was someone I was madly crushing on (and still am…but I said I wouldn’t go into details…). What made the dream even more enchanting was some fairly old fashioned family members were watching all this go down and gave me a signal they approved of the nice boy asking me out, once they’d had a chance to size him up.

It was like a slice of life from a better world, a better life. I woke up feeling Wonderful.

I’m 62, going on 63 now. I’ve had my three strikes. I know it will never be. I think this must be how acceptance feels. I’m okay with the dream I just had. Better than okay. Some dreams don’t have to come true after all. They can just be dreams.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Dreams…

February 22nd, 2016

A Small Awakening After A Long Winter

Put my bird feeders back up over the weekend. After I’d finished I noticed I seemed more awake, more aware of…everything…than I had in a long time.

I’d stopped feeding a couple winters ago (counting this one) because the mess was getting more annoying than I wanted to deal with. Birds are messy eaters and the shells get tossed every friggin’ where. Plus the additional cost of stocking up on big sacks of seed before winter set it was more one year that I wanted to bear.

But there was more to it, and even back then I knew it in that just-barely-aware space where you put things you flinch away from looking at too closely. Somehow I’d just lost interest. It’s weird, but looking back on it now I think I know why. The front yard was Claudia’s hangout and when she died, counter intuitively, I lost interest in the bird feeders.

I think it was the feeders were something I enjoyed looking out at. Watching birds at the feeders is one of those little joys I’ve indulged ever since kidhood. I’d have them out on the apartment balconies everywhere mom and I lived. One of the big deals of having a house of my own was I could really indulge it if I had a nice yard and space to put up different kinds of feeders for different kinds of birds. Then it happened and afterward I didn’t much care about the front yard anymore. Or more specifically, looking out the front window.

It’s odd and interesting how emotions can seem to be about one thing when they’re really about something else. I had no noticeable aversion to looking out the front window at the front yard and the street. I did it often if only to check on the weather and my car from time to time. My house being an middle-group rowhouse doesn’t have side windows, so the front, which faces the south, is my main source of sunlight. So it always got its blinds opened first thing in the morning. Had there been something making me actually flinch away from the window I’d have noticed it and walked it back to the source. But it was only disinterest in feeding the birds starting that winter. That little joy didn’t matter much anymore for some reason. So I took the feeders down. And without the feeders I never bothered looking out that window much, except to check on the weather, and the car. It’s been years since it happened and I still sometimes get flashbacks of glancing out that window and seeing Claudia thrashing on the street, and knowing in that instant she’d been run over.

Last Friday while telecommuting I saw a chickadee hopping around on my Japanese maple looking for the feeders that used to be out there and I thought I should go dig out one of the small sunflower seed feeders. It was a chore because all the feeders were in a storage container under the backyard deck and the outside door to it was still blocked by the huge pile of snow I’d shovelled off the deck. I could get to it from the basement door but I just knew it would be covered in funnel spider condos which I just didn’t want to get near without a lot of de-spider spray. Plus it was blocked off with workshop items like the table saw and ironically, the storage cans where I keep the wild bird seed.

But I got into it anyway and cleared out the spider encampment (I swear this spring I’m hiring an exterminator to de-spider the space under my deck) and worked my way to the container with the bird feeders in it. I ended up taking most of the stuff in it out. As I began setting things back up in the front yard something apparently awakened inside. I found myself trekking to the Wild Birds Unlimited out in Cockeysville and buying some new feeders and mounting poles, and some fresh suet cakes for the woodpeckers. And when I’d finished I looked at my front yard it seemed with fresh eyes, like as though for the past couple years I’d not really been seeing it right there in front of me.

Figured it might take me months to get my old customers back. They were all there by the end of that day.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Small Awakening After A Long Winter

January 22nd, 2016

To Whom It May Concern…

I guess the thing that really surprised me is I always thought you’d be the braver one. I never considered myself brave, just stubborn.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on To Whom It May Concern…

January 12th, 2016

A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977

While researching the events of 1977 and Anita Bryant’s campaign, I came across this via a Google image search that turned up this Jack Davis cartoon in the July 1978 issue of Mad magazine…

MadJuly78-JackDavis

It might seem surprising now how low class Mad Magazine’s attitude toward gays was…

Mad #145, Sept ‘71, from “Greeting Cards For The
Sexual Revolution” – “To A Gay Liberationist”

…but this blog post puts it into context: it wasn’t just the times, but also the 50s mindset of the staff. The liberal free spirit I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony mindset of the 60s-70s didn’t usually extend to Teh Gay. Check out the limp wrist in that Jack Davis cartoon. This is the world I came out into.

That summer of 1977 I had to listen to the BBC on my shortwave radio to hear the news from Florida because none of the TV and domestic radio news bothered to say anything about something that was obviously not of interest to decent normal people. Close to midnight sitting by the shortwave I learned that three out of four voters in Dade county had voted to kill an ordinance that simply said gay people ought not to lose their jobs or their housing simply because a boss or a landlord found out they’re gay. The next day as I walked through the city I found myself counting down three people for four I passed…trying to grasp the scope of how much people like me were still loathed.

Then later that December 1977…I watched the Christmas TV special that’s been on my mind the past couple days…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Young Gay Guy In The Year 1977

Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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