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February 16th, 2022

Stepping From One Life Into Another

Step by step…

Got my first Social Security payment today, and it’s a tad better than expected because of the cost of living adjustment they made in January.

I applied back in September, two years after my official full retirement year, so the payment is bigger. The plan was to wait it out until 70 when you have to take it. My work isn’t physically strenuous and I love my job so I figured that would be a piece of cake. The heart attack two years ago (a month after I’d reached my full Social Security age) convinced me otherwise, and I adjusted the plan to retiring after James Webb launch. I’m getting Social Security at the same time I’m still drawing a paycheck because they kept moving the launch date back.

I was afraid some bureaucratic screw up would happen and I’d not see a payment today and have to wade through the bureaucracy to get it fixed. I’m still struggling to get Medicare plan B going. But I checked just now and there it is.

They say Social Security should not be more than a small part of your retirement income, but I did not have the wherewithal to save for retirement until late in life. That factoid you may have heard about gay men having so much discretionary income…? It’s total bullshit! A lifestyle magazine did a survey and got that result which they then pitched to advertisers. But all it meant is having lots of money in the 1990s made it easier for some gay guys to be out of the closet. Most of us had to struggle and it was even worse for lesbians. I had first hand experience with that doing volunteer work for a local gay BBS run by a non-profit, those times of year when we sent out letters asking for donations. I have a string of jobs in my past I got fired or laid off of the instant they figured out what a lavender boy I am…usually because I refused to make up stories about girlfriends I didn’t have.

Something I’ve said often enough is that a militant homosexual is a homosexual who doesn’t think there is anything wrong with being a homosexual, and a militant homosexual activist is a homosexual who acts like there isn’t anything wrong with being a homosexual. That’s it. That’s all there is to it. You don’t have to march in Pride Day parades, you don’t have to do Gay Days every year at Walt Disney World, you don’t have to festoon your car with Pride decals. All it takes is you are fine with being gay, and unwilling to hide that fact whenever those unplanned, unexpected out of the closet moments suddenly tap you on the shoulder. Eventually life teaches you that being truthful is better in the long run, even if it stings at the moment. You get one chance in this life to keep your good name, and the trust of your neighbors. But for us gay folk, maintaining that is a constant struggle against the pressure from every direction to duck the question, to hide. to lie, to put on a mask for the comfort of others, and never mind that it will slowly strangle the person you could have been. 

They tell us to just not “flaunt it” and we’ll be fine, but that’s a lie. You had to bury yourself deep and fake it and lie and lie and lie and lie about every part of your life and just let it corrode your soul and and drive you deeper into self hatred. I refused. I’d fallen in love when I was 17 and it made me stubborn. I saw what the closet did, And Still Does, to so many, and apart from knowing that I had to be careful (I read stories about gay bashings nearly every week, even these days) I wasn’t going there, I was not going to act like I thought there was anything wrong with me when I damn well knew there wasn’t. All I had to do was remember how seeing him smile made me feel back when we were teenagers, and the world was new.

But I was never of the fabulous peacock tribe. I was, and to some degree still am, a kind of scrawny geeky kind of guy, without very much of a fashion sense, and thus I made it past a lot of job interviews, only to later be shown the door for being insufficiently low on the Kinsey scale. I never had a boyfriend, was always single, and thus had no love life to brag about like everyone else in the office. Lots of people mistook that for my being discrete but if challenged on it I would dig in my heels and tell the truth. Yes I am…what of it? And that’s what usually got me fired. I never really saw myself as being brave or having courage, just stubborn. 

So I didn’t have much to save for retirement, until I got the job I have now, with an employer that actually took pains to make me feel safe and valued there, and matched ten percent of my salary and put it right into a 403b (they’re for non-profits). Twenty-two years of that, plus my own contributions now that I had a good income for it, gave me enough of a nest egg that I can retire comfortably, if not fabulously. But Social Security is going to have to be a big part of that, which is why I waited to apply. That, and buying my little Baltimore rowhouse when I did, makes it possible. Oh…and the car is paid for. In ten years so is the house.

I’ll do okay. But for the life of me I just don’t get why so many old people vote republican. They’ve been trying to kill Social Security since FDR created it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Stepping From One Life Into Another

February 14th, 2022

The Day After Valentine’s Day Should Be Ours

Those of us who are single. Those of us who have never found that intimate other. Those of us who crashed and burned on the alter of Love. It’s the day after that is ours. The day when the flowers start to wilt and the candy goes stale. There you will find us. The books holding stories of love that never was, waiting forever on the remainders shelves as a last desperate hope for a buyer. The closest thing I ever had to a boyfriend told me we were but merely friends with benefits. Swell if that sort of thing suits you. Too bad I was in love. Strike Three!

Today is the most miserable of days for those of us who have been single our entire adult lives. This year I have my pending retirement to distract me from it, so there’s that. That, and the fact that I’ve reached an age now where the need is beginning to wane. Let’s hear it for getting old. I tell myself I survived the heart attack because my heart has a lot of experience living with damage.  

But…since I’m seeing so many others sharing their favorite Valentine’s Day poems on Facebook today, let me share a couple of mine. Not really Valentine’s Day poems you say? Oh my goodness…yes…yes they are!

Because I liked you better
Than suits a man to say,
It irked you, and I promised
To throw the thought away.
To put the world between us
We parted, stiff and dry;
‘Good-bye,’ said you, `forget me.’
‘I will, no fear’, said I.
If here, where clover whitens
The dead man’s knoll, you pass,
And no tall flower to meet you
Starts in the trefoiled grass,
Halt by the headstone naming
The heart no longer stirred,
And say the lad that loved you
Was one that kept his word.
-A. E. Housman

I’ll just quote a couple lines from The Man On The Bed by Debora Greger…

If the heart is a house, he thought,
it is rented to strangers
who leave it empty.

That’s a hard one to find to read since it’s not been published widely, but it’s there in the November 24, 1974 issue of The New Yorker. If you have a subscription you can read it online. I bought a copy from a place that sells back issues just so I could have the entire thing. I think it’s a perfect Day After Valentine’s Day poem, but that’s probably not what the poet had in mind.

Many years ago I did a series of charcoal and ink drawings on a theme of first love, which I’m still really proud of…


The Old Gate

I was still so sure that I’d find my other half eventually. But that was then, and this is now. Crush #1 and I are not speaking to each other anymore, and crush #3 is living happily with the guy he dumped me for, except you can’t really say you were dumped when all you ever were was a friend who provided benefits when called upon. Age brings wisdom. And…heart attacks. Of the physical sort no less. If I’m still alive next year I might restart this blog’s annual Valentine’s Day Poster Contest.

 

But by then I might be fully across the threshold of old enough not to care anymore. Think of it as being nature’s way of saving the quest for love for younger folks who can take a beating. Or culling the herd of the ones that can’t. Some nights I have no idea why I’m still alive.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Day After Valentine’s Day Should Be Ours

February 13th, 2022

That Magic Feeling

Yesterday I entered the two week period prior to retirement, where everything is happening according to a set number of steps. You can no longer take any time off, because payroll wants a clean slate to do the final payouts on. There are steps for turning in equipment, and various key cards. Also I have to make sure the people who will be taking on my rolls (I had many) are fully trained and my system accounts are migrated over to them.

It actually began a few days ago, when I had to enter this in the IT support system…

I had finished up a pre-departure interview with HR and was instructed to start this process in the system. There are still things to tidy up, mostly equipment related things and documents to sign and pass around. But…here goes. As of now I am on the two week glide path.

When I leave the building as a retiree, I know what I’ll be thinking…

Monday morning, turning back
Yellow lorry slow, nowhere to go
But oh, that magic feeling, nowhere to go
Oh, that magic feeling
Nowhere to go, nowhere to go…

Those lines from the Beatles You Never Give Me Your Money always played in my mind whenever I was laid off, fired (hair too long, incorrect sexual orientation) or quit (I hate this job I can do better somewhere else). It’s that initially disorienting sensation of suddenly not being on the clock anymore…which you are even on your time off because then the back to work clock is ticking. The clock is always ticking. And then suddenly it isn’t, and you feel a bit weightless. It’s a thrilling, scary, mysterious feeling. This will be the first time I experience it and I’m leaving on a high note.

I loved this job, absolutely loved it. But I can feel my time on this earth winding down now, and it’s time to move on.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on That Magic Feeling

February 5th, 2022

The Eternal Fog Bank Of The Cluttered Mind

What worries me is I’m becoming more and more dependent on post-it notes to remember things. I keep telling myself it’s not that my brain is dying but that it has way too much stuff in it.

I have half a dozen or so threads going on in my mind at any given time. So I’m told, and I hold on to this tightly, that’s typical of artist types. Am I a bit crazy? Possibly. But how would I know? David Gerrold once said it was like being a browser with several dozen tabs open all at once. Best description of it I’ve ever heard. But things fall on the floor…important things if you’re not careful.

I am working on updating/fixing my political cartoons page. Right now it’s a mess and I want to get it better organized because one of my many plans in retirement is diving back into it because I’ll have more time for it. But I have the files and menus scattered hither and yon up on the server, an artifact of my having started my website 21 years ago without a clear plan of its content. I need to fix that because it’s becoming unmaintainable.

I keep a local copy of my website on the art room computer and a safety backup on the household network NAS (stands for Network Attached Storage…basically a unit with one or more hard drives that sits on your network where you can store files that everyone on the network can access. They come in handy when you have a bunch of machines scattered around the house.), plus the NAS backups. I use GoodSync to keep the local, NAS and server copies in sync. This morning I started working on it again and noticed that all the timestamps were too old and I got confused.

Then I realized that I hadn’t been working on the NAS copy but the local one. I’d got mixed up as to which was which working copy.
So…I got a post-it note…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Eternal Fog Bank Of The Cluttered Mind


And Just What Did You Think Retirement Was Going To Be Like…?

The struggle today of setting up…actually fixing up and making it workable again…a local apache web server on the art room computer, so I can test fixes to my website before pushing them up to my host, is basically telling me that I will never escape what I know about IT, not even in retirement. 

I need to do this because I’m going to make a bunch of fixes to the file structure of the website that I’ve been putting off for years. Mostly because I want to get back into the political cartoons, and maybe work my way back up to doing a weekly one again once I have the time for it. But No Kidding, it was like putting in a full day at work in deep focus on a problem, actually a series of problems, that I knew once I made a breakthrough the rest of it would be simple to fix. And it was. But lord have mercy my brain hurts now, and my heart has been telling me for months I can’t drink like I used to, or take a cigar walk and claw my way out of that deep focus.

But I got it working, so there’s that. Not the WordPress part…that would require setting up a MySQL server, and getting php running. Both things I can do and have done at work. But…you know…work. I’m supposed to be retiring. And anyway that’s not what I need to test here. I’m just going to be moving around a bunch of files, mostly cartoon files, and I need to make sure I’m not breaking any links. Currently those files scattered hither and yon because I started my website twenty years ago without a good idea of what I wanted it to be, and I need to get it better organized.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on And Just What Did You Think Retirement Was Going To Be Like…?

January 28th, 2022

“It’s a gift!”

I’m outside fixing up the bird feeders for the upcoming snowfall. The calico is outside too, sitting on the top of my nextdoor neighbors steps. I see an elderly lady walking up the sidewalk toss something at the calico and I look over at the cat alarmed. But the cat takes no notice.

The lady sees me and approaches smiling. She looks to be very old Asian lady, and her english is a tad broken, but she smiles earnestly at me and hands me something. “A gift” she says. From its size and shape I know instantly what it is: a Jack Chick tract. Oh great, thinks I, another questionnaire.

I take it and smile back gamely. She seems nice enough and I have a soft spot for old women…probably out of some regret that my own maternal grandmother was such a cold mean hearted so and so. And given this lady’s english I’m pretty sure I’m not getting an incoming proselytize. She’s going to let the tract do her talking for her. I notice she is carrying two small bricks of Chick tracts, all probably that same one. So it’ll do me no good to ask for another for my collection. But this is one I don’t have so it’s all good.

“It’s a gift!” she says brightly. “You are forgiven!” I refrain from asking For what? Being born? Accepting my sexual orientation? Using a Keurig machine?

And she walks on down the street. The tract she handed me was “The Word Became Flesh”, and it’s drawn by one of Chick’s skilled cartoonists, which disappoints me. I consider the authentic Chick drawn tracts to be the best collectibles. And this one doesn’t have the usual questionnaire at the end. It does give you Step By Step instructions on how to be saved, including the Specific words to pray. Chick was actually a very controlling personality, and his tracts are his way of manipulating people and excusing it as a religious duty.

The pulpit thumpers I grew up with would not approve. They believed acceptance of the Faith had to be wholehearted and entirely voluntary. No manipulating people into it. No such thing as blind faith. You walked down the aisle with your eyes wide open. That poor lady’s happy little utterly empty smile is going to haunt me all day long now.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on “It’s a gift!”

January 9th, 2022

You’re Old, I Need To Rest Every Now And Then

From our Do You Really Want To Know department…

This came in the mail yesterday evening. I bought it because I have trouble finding my pulse points to do a direct measure of my heart rate. Turns out it isn’t easy with one of these either…maybe because this is a cheap one (15 bucks versus 90 and up). But there’s a spot just below my left breast that works very well. I found it shortly after this was delivered.

I think I could actually hear the blood flow as well as the beats, which was a tad creepy sounding. But not as creepy as the sound of my heart skipping a beat randomly.

beat beat beat beat beat beat beat … beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat … beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat … beat beat beat beat … beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat … beat beat beat beat beat beat beat beat

And so on… Somehow I don’t think it’s supposed to do that. As usual I felt nothing odd. The beat itself was regular. No faster and then slower and then faster. Nope. Just moving right along. Except for that random unsettling pause. I would never have known about this had I not bought this device. But a need to find out is wired into me…and if that means also becoming familiar with a new tool then just take my money.

So I’m told, the stethoscope was invented by a male doctor who was uncomfortable having to put his ear on women’s chests to listen to their heartbeats. I suspect he was a Baptist.

I listened again just now and this morning the heart isn’t doing that skipping beats thing at all. In fact, it sounds perfectly normal to my untrained ears. It’s waiting for me to stop watching it, I just know it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on You’re Old, I Need To Rest Every Now And Then

December 12th, 2021

Not Walt Disney World, But Disney World

…as in Disney the big media conglomerate.  I discovered an Epcot parody account on Twitter the other day that’s pretty brutal…

There was a time I would have absolutely hated this. But with all the changes to the parks that have happened in the last few years, and the blatant disrespect I keep seeing for the theming, and for Walt Disney’s vision, I’m kinda enjoying it. There’s the big screen TV they put on the wall in the Belle Vue Lounge, so people could watch their sports broadcasts there? Have I mentioned how much I despise that? The theming is it’s a turn of the 19th century Coney Island boardwalk hotel, and the Belle Vue Lounge was a small out of the way spot where you could relax, enjoy a drink in one of the old fashioned leather chairs, and listen to one of the old radios playing The Green Hornet, Jack Benny, or Studio One. It’s supposed to be from a time before television. But no…some complete moron decided it needed a big screen TV. I suppose because there isn’t a sports bar anywhere nearby…

I think that was when I began to question management’s commitment to the theming of the parks. I forget whether that was before or after they replaced The Writer’s Stop with a Beer Taproom, because Starbucks couldn’t abide the competition for coffee and pastries, and selling alcohol to adults is more important than selling books to kids. And then they replaced the Great Movie Ride with Mickey’s Runaway Railroad. Get me started on the new look of Walt Disney’s cartoon characters…

But I’m been slowly coming to a place of acceptance. It isn’t Walt Disney’s World anymore, it’s Disney World, and Disney isn’t a keeper of the vision. It’s keeper of the media properties.

Yeah, they still do a lot of good things, especially when it comes to treating their LGBT customers like everyone else. Yeah I’ll keep coming back. There is still just enough of Walt in there, and enough fun, to keep me coming back. But not nearly as often. I’m giving up my annual pass. In part it’s because if I only go once a year it isn’t buying me anything my DVC membership isn’t already. But mostly it’s the park reservation system, which completely kills any reason I might otherwise have for having an annual pass, even one of the lesser ones with blackout dates.

Basically it’s too much money and not enough Walt Disney. And it’s mostly a hassle, where before it was mostly fun. I feel like I got in just in time to enjoy the last of what was Walt Disney’s World.

Now I’m kinda enjoying this parody account. It sticks the knife in right where I think it belongs.

And it almost reads like it’s being done by someone who either worked there once, or still is and hates the new management…

 

Oh…They have one at the Belle Vue Lounge! Turn the volume up if the noise coming from all those old radios is bothering you.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Not Walt Disney World, But Disney World

November 4th, 2021

Life Happens…

Facebook helpfully provides a daily Things That You Posted On This Date Through The Years link…

This is about the premiere of Morgan Jon Fox’s documentary This Is What Love In Action Looks Like. It’s about the protests over teenagers being forced into ex-gay conversion therapy at a place in Memphis Tennessee. I contributed both photography for it and some money, so I got screen credits for Photography and as an Associate Producer.

I’m sixty-eight years old now, and on the cusp of retirement, and I see this and I’m thinking, wow…it’s been a life hasn’t it Bruce Garrett…

Cartoonist, photographer, software engineer, woodworker, roadie for a local blues band, architectural model maker, burger flipper, stock clerk in a psychiatric hospital, JWST ground systems test conductor, associate producer…

I can remember looking out across the Washington DC rail yards and seeing steam engines. I remember when most of the passenger airplanes I saw overhead were propeller driven. I saw the beginnings of the jet age, then the space age. I listened to short wave radio so I could get the news from abroad. I remember the weird sounds of the Soviet Union jammers trying to keep Radio Free Europe out. I remember the transition to color TV. I watched the first satellite TV broadcast from overseas. I watched live as Neil Armstrong put his foot on the moon. I remember the transition to wireless telephones, then to cell phones. I was among the first generation of 18 year olds to cast a vote in a presidential election. I registered for the draft when I turned 18, went for my pre-induction physical when I got the notice, stood in a line with a bunch of other 18 year olds in our underwear as we were poked and prodded by military doctors for suitability as Vietnam war canon fodder. I did my own maintenance on my first car, changing spark plugs, adjusting the distributor points, and checking the timing with a timing light. I remember the first gasoline drought and why it mattered if your license tag ended in an even or odd number. I built my first computer from parts I got at a HAM fest and taught myself how to program it. I walked in the first national Gay Rights march. I walked grieving and terrified among the Names Project quilt panels. I have stood in a protest line across from a camp that forced gay teenagers into ex-gay therapy, talked with the survivors young and old. I have spoken test instructions across the NASA deep space network, talked to astronauts that serviced the Hubble Space Telescope. I have a piece of it they brought back on my den wall.

It’s a small thing I suppose, but my handwritten signature has been into space three times, carried on an Institute banner during Hubble servicing missions. A little piece of me made it into space.

Yeah. It’s been a life.

Someone who joined a Zoom happy hour I hit every now and then said I should write a memoir, but it would be exhausting to do and probably very confusing for anyone to read. What is your point Mr. Garrett?? I dunno…shit happens I guess…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life Happens…

November 3rd, 2021

I Know…Let’s Spend A Fortune On Disney World Tickets And Just Stand In Line For Hours!

What fun!

Scanning my Facebook stream this morning I see complaining about the lines at the new Space 220 restaurant at Walt Disney World. One user posted that they’d waited in line with family for three hours, only to be told the bar was open now and so kids could not be allowed inside.

Three hours. Anyone who has ever hung out with me knows how impatient I can get about lines, but I am stunned. Who stands in a line for three hours to eat?? For a ride…maybe. If it’s new and exciting. Sure. But…to eat? How about making a reservation? And if you try and discover it’s booked for three months in advance, maybe think of another place to eat that day.

I dunno…I’ve always been this way. Ask anyone who’s ever stood in line with me. But maybe more so now that I’m at the tail end of life and about to retire and my days will be all mine and I’m not spending the hours of those last days standing in lines doing nothing. At my age I’m napping too much as it is.

You don’t need to stand in line. Especially for three hours. Are you insane? There are Tons of good places to eat. There are lots of fun rides and attractions. Yeah…yeah…but none of them are the Next Big Thing. I get it. But I don’t. Life is short. Impatience is a virtue.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Know…Let’s Spend A Fortune On Disney World Tickets And Just Stand In Line For Hours!

October 17th, 2021

Living With My Picky Libido And Empty House

I wrote this several years ago, about a bartender I just couldn’t stop gawking at. He was straight, had a nice girlfriend, but he took kindly to the roving eyes and dropping jaw of a lonely old gay man, and some days when he wasn’t too busy, we’d chat for hours across the bar about this and that…life…music…Disneyworld…

Something about the face…those beautiful eyes, that lovely smile that appears spontaneously and lights up his face…Something about the way his hair flows easily down the back of his neck to his shoulders. Something about the shape of the hips, the lovely curve of the glutes under skin tight black low rise jeans, the occasional peek of black bikini brief just a tad above the belt line against bare skin, and the way that cute blue bandanna hangs down from his left back pocket…

My libido is picky. Very Very picky. But when it alerts…

Gay male sexuality. Every single guy I’ve ever taken a fancy to…Every One…could fit this pattern in a general way. My libido may not be very energetic, but it isn’t dead yet either…

At the time I wrote this I was well into my sixties and afraid of losing interest altogether. Now I’m a heart patient, and on beta blockers, which can be fairly described as antimatter Viagra. That, and a libido that seldom alerts on anything keeps me worried that someday I’ll just forget what it was that ever interested me in the first place about sex. 

But I’m not dead yet. Just…old…and looking at an entire lifetime spent on the outside of love and desire and romance looking in. That knife in my heart has so many names on it, and not just the names of bigots and bible thumpers. Shockingly there are gay names there who I trusted to lend a hand to an awkward gay kid who didn’t have the first clue about flirting, and who might as well have been bigots and bible thumpers too. The damage to my love life aren’t any different that I can see.

But a beautiful guy can still make my heart beat. So there’s that anyway. Joy and torment all wrapped up in one!

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Living With My Picky Libido And Empty House

September 17th, 2021

All Things Must Pass. . .

And so, the last paid vacation I will probably ever have ends. It wasn’t exactly spectacular, but it couldn’t be due to staff vacation restrictions for the soon to come launch of JWST. Plus there’s a plague going on right now. Which is why I’ve been staying out of the Disney parks this trip. Paid vacation was an absolute rarity in my working life, and I would have liked to have made this last paid vacation I’ll ever get a big blow out. But it was not to be. Such is life. So it goes.

Yeah, yeah…I’m retiring soon. Life will be a vacation every day! Also, I won’t have nearly the kind of money for it that it takes to do really nice ones like I’ve been doing, unless I want to blow through my four oh something somethings in just a decade or so.

(So if you hear me laughing my butt off if my heart gives out in five, that’ll be why. Oh…you mean I could have done Disney five or six times a year…and California too!? Ah…but that assumes this plague ever ends)

Heading for the Autotrain in the morning. And from there to the last few months of my working life…and to whatever comes after. I really don’t care. Just so long as I can finish my cartoon story, and maybe take a few more good photos. Write some stories…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on All Things Must Pass. . .

September 15th, 2021

Home Away From Home

Really enjoying what is essentially a one bedroom apartment here in Saratoga Springs, especially the fully equipped kitchen. And it’s reminding me of the guest house apartments mom used to get us when we went to the beach, back when I was a kid. Those would be two bedroom things, also with fully equipped kitchens. I guess I’d forgotten this.

They would usually be a block behind the hotels stacked along the boardwalks and beachfronts. Large structures that looked like very big old houses, but were divided up into apartments that families could rent for their stay at the beach. Often much, Much more affordable than the nice beachfront hotels, they provided plenty of space for mom, dad and the kids. Ours usually had nice front porches to hang out on in the evenings. The equipment in them was usually old like the buildings themselves….bathtubs with legs, sinks with separate faucets for hot and cold, stoves you had to light…all seemingly from the 1930s or 40s. But they gave you a good close approximation of a home away from home while you were at the beach for a week or two.

At the end of the street where we always stayed in Ocean City, New Jersey, was a Very Nice upscale six floor hotel right on the boardwalk. I used to envy the people who stayed there…very well to do folks judging by the cars parked there (I became fascinated by cars early in my boyhood…we wouldn’t have a car of our own until I was in my middle teens when mom bought a Plymouth Valiant.) When I returned to Ocean City after decades away, making very good money myself now, I made a beeline to that hotel. Yeah it was pricey, but the view out over the ocean from the upper floors was magnificent. Still…it was a hotel, not a guest house. You didn’t get a kitchen. You didn’t even get a fridge or microwave unless you sprang for one of the deluxe corner units. Those had wet bars and mini food prep areas. It was expected that you would be eating out all the time. Really, the food prep areas were just for after hours hanging out drinking and snacking.

In my adult travels I’ve always hit the hotels and roadside motels. They’re good for the road, but if you use them for a stay you’re depending on restaurants for everything but snacks. You might get a small fridge and a little microwave. There’s usually a coffee maker. Rarely do you get a sink and a food prep area. I’ve been creative with this setup, bringing to it my own travel silverware, dishes and food prep stuff, but you really can’t do much with it. You’re basically planning to eat out all the time or snack in your hotel room. For an extended stay you really need a kitchen. Then you have a home base, from which to go exploring.

Perhaps this is my introvert nature expressing itself, but really feeling like I have a home base this trip is very soothing. A motel room just isn’t that. This one bedroom DVC I got in Saratoga Springs (so I’m told, the very first Disney Vacation Club site) is all that. I’m able to do a week of it here in Saratoga Springs because it isn’t expensive point wise, and I get walking access to Disney Springs. If I’m not doing the parks anymore Boardwalk’s walking distance to my two favorite parks isn’t offering me anything.

It’s easy to fall into a home away from home routine here in a one bedroom. In the mornings I’ll make a mug of ice coffee from the fridge and take it with me for a morning stroll, then come back and make breakfast and think about my day. I might to a laundry…there is a washer and dryer right in the unit. I might just work on A Coming Out Story…I have what I need to get the next episode out…make a lunch and hit the pool here. I’m not doing the parks this trip (thank you Ron DeSantis you insane murderous Trump loving jackass), but I’ve a good set of cameras with me and there are nearby places to explore. Maybe I’ll eat somewhere interesting. Or I can just return to home base and make dinner, and think about what I saw, and maybe write a few things down.

This is what vacations were like when I was a kid. Just hanging out in a fun place with no particular schedule in mind. Mom would spend the afternoons at the beach. I might too, or I might just wander the boardwalk and do some mini golf or some of the rides. Or I might hop on my bicycle and go explore. Now I have a car.
 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Home Away From Home

August 27th, 2021

My Safe Space

Yesterday I joined up with some co-workers for an after hours get-together at a local place I hadn’t been too, largely because it’s a nitch brewery and I am not a beer person. In fact, every time I see one of those online things that asks, “What is something everyone loves that you can’t stand?” the first thing that pops to my mind is beer. But this place was easy to get to from Casa del Garrett and I was curious if they served food and snacks too (which they do…pizza mostly) and so I went. Luckily, they also served some very nice non-alcoholic boutique soda.

It went well until as often happens with this particular group of co-workers, mostly youngsters compared to approaching my 70s me, they began to ignore me whenever I attempted to contribute to the conversation. Not subtilly either. So I got up and left. This let’s just ignore weird old aging hippy Bruce effect from these particular co workers is a Big contributing reason why I’m retiring from Space Telescope at the end of this year.

But it happens in other context too, and for years I’ve just let it happen and blamed myself for being, at least in person, a boring old fart. But this time I looked at what was happening critically. They were drinking, and I was not, and what I saw was an older man, politely trying to hold up his end of the conversation, listening to what the others were saying (they all had interesting things to say, interesting perspectives coming from mostly younger folks some of which were new to living in Baltimore), and waiting my turn before speaking up. And what was happening is that one person in particular would just jump right in and start talking over me, and the rest would follow. 

I allowed this sort of thing to happen for ages…I’ve never been very socially confident to begin with. When you’re raised by two Baptist ladies, one of which hates your guts because you have your father’s face, you don’t enter adult life equipped with a whole lot in the way of social skills. Coming of age during a period when gay teenagers had to hide for their own safety added another layer to that. So whenever I get talked over, I usually just shut up.

One nice effect of growing old and finally admitting it is that you stop caring about a lot of things you used to. It becomes easier to shed baggage the closer you get to the end of the road. You finally start to see that you just don’t need to keep hanging around places don’t respect you. This time, I just got up and left. But I left with a dark cloud hanging over me.

Luckily, I’ve planned a quick trip with my cameras to somewhere else for the weekend. I’ll be boarding the train to Richmond soon, taking the F1N and the Leica and some film and a few filters. I’ve made reservations at the place near the old train station, where I was hanging out with my cameras last weekend, and discovered a fantastic restaurant/bar/cigar bar called Havana59. The entire area gave my cameras something to love and I expect having more time to explore it will do the same.

I’ll be alone with my camera. Somewhere I can be alone with my feelings, and I can hear myself thinking, and explore the world I see with my cameras, and get my feelings out of me, and I am not being silenced.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on My Safe Space

August 17th, 2021

Time To Let Go

Deleted my Instagram account just now…or at least I Think I did…after it punched me in the gut this morning. This could be the start of something. I’m at a stage in my life where I need to start letting go of things. Like having any hope for a love life for example. Like looking reverently at beautiful guys and thinking life is good after all. People who look like that want people who look like that. 

I need less social media in my life. Really all I need is my blog and my website here. It’s getting too painful to look out at the world through social media. I grew up in a time that didn’t even have personal computers, let alone smartphones. I can deal better with the life I have now, by re-introducing myself to some of that. I could pretend I’m living again back in a time when I was happy and looking forward to the next day, and all the days after that. 

Never going back to using a telephone attached to a wall with a wire though. Nope. 

Wandered around Sunbury the other day, all alone with my cameras. First the Canon F1N loaded with some Tri-X Pan, then the new 6D mark II. It’s like the only time I ever feel alive anymore is when I’m taking a camera walk, or doing anything in the art room. Otherwise I’m just a walking corpse, putting one foot in front of the other to get through the day.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Time To Let Go

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