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March 5th, 2023

Yet Another Anniversary

So soon after my one year of retirement anniversary, like a mugger, March 6 is waiting just around the corner. Where do the years go? 

I stayed so long after closing one night enjoying the company of someone in Germany (Epcot) that cast members had to escort stragglers away from World Showcase and toward the exits, lest we get eaten.

Just a couple short years later I was the one eating. Eating a Very Nice Kobe Steak at the Brown Derby, when I got your angrygram. Never contact me again in any way shape or form… I have a question. How do you contact someone with a shape? I can see ways, and I can see forms, but shapes? By way of reply to your tetrahedron of March 6 please review the enclosed dodecahedron… Thing of it was, I hadn’t said anything to you that day that I didn’t many times before. You knew. You remembered. It was okay. We would chat for hours on the phone, toss emails back and forth (hope you’re still enjoying the Nissan Leaf. Bunch of Teslas with charging stations in my alleyway these days) and photos (still not sure what you meant by sending me that picture of the beach), sit together for a while after hours and chat happily. But that was when our conversations were private.

So here comes another March 6. And oh look…in the New And Improved Rockville (Now North Bethesda!) there’s an upscale Brazilian steakhouse not far from the old homesteads! Perfect for a day of remembrance.

Such a perfectly styled coiffure. You should start wearing it long again, now that you don’t have the Mouse to answer to.

by Bruce | Link | React!

October 26th, 2022

The Empty Zone Beyond Time

I was unemployed for an extended period of time back in the early 1980s and I remember how badly that mucked with my wake/sleep patterns. There was probably a marginal case of depression along with it that kept me from being more energetic about finding work. I did manage some odds and ends…usually Manpower type temp work for a day or so. But mostly I just sat in my room listening to music or reading. And smoking pot. All night long.

By day, if I was awake, which usually I wasn’t until mid-afternoon, I would take long winding walks around my neighborhood, or along the railroad tracks. Then it was back into my room, door closed, to smoke some pot and zone out with some music or a book. Oddly, or not given we were Baptists, mom was actually very very glad it wasn’t alcohol and said nothing about the pot. On my walks I’d often smoke a cigar because even then I didn’t want cigar smoke in the house. I knew mom would have a fit about tobacco. This was before I had my first computer.

I remember how it distressed mom to see me so aimless and sad all the time, but from my own point of view I don’t think I’ve ever been down in that dark pit so deep since. I’d broken up badly with Strike Two (he’s straight so it wasn’t his fault), and I was thinking that this was going to be my life now (romance wise it was…but that’s not what I’m thinking about now. Or the pot). It was my first extended period of time where the clock didn’t matter. And it royally screwed up my sleep/wake patterns.

I can see it happening again. The difference now though is I am at least as active as I was when I had a full time job. I’m not just sitting around the house listening to music, and last California visit I discovered, to my regret, that pot does unpleasant things to my head now so I can’t indulge like I was hoping to after retirement. Maybe it’s, as they say, the stuff is stronger now. Or it’s I’m old and my brain is full enough of a lifetime of art kid strangeness to take in any more strange. Or both. Maybe. I’ve read my Don Juan. I know what you have to do when the ally turns on you. I think I’m finally past that ingrained Baptist fear of things that make you feel good, but not so post Baptist that I can’t grimly accept the pleasures of the past are no longer mine. Life, veil of tears, and all that. Dust we were and dust we shall be…so on and so forth. Just leave it alone.

Now it’s I go to bed super early, like 7 or 8, wake around midnight, do housework, laundry, dishes, work on a project, blog, whatever, until sleep beckons around 4 or 5, then wake up again around 10 and lay in bed reading social media until nearly 11. I was taking stock and thinking that I’m not living a full day when I realized that, well, yes I am, just in random fragments.

It’s just…spooky…how it’s beginning to feel like that time back in the early 1980s when I was unemployed for like…a couple years I think it was. This was also when I stopped doing art. Somehow I roused myself out of it. I think it was I got hooked on the personal computer. When I saw my first one it grabbed my attention somehow and then I had something for my brain to engage with, that didn’t have to touch my feelings. First it was I wanted to tune in to those mysterious shortwave teletype signals. That segued into online computer bulletin boards and my first real connection with the gay community. And from there I learned programming, networking, got work, built up a resume…

You’d have had to see that kid back in the 1980s all alone nights in his room zoned out without any prospects at all to appreciate how different his life became. And how spooky it feels now, to experience that same mucking up of my sleep/wake patterns I did back then. Good thing having a house is like having a second job.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Empty Zone Beyond Time

September 18th, 2022

50th Reunion – The Morning After (continued…)

Really living on the reunion afterglow this morning. It’s just so nice to be able to hang out with so many people who are on the same page as I am. People who, despite the different paths we have walked, share many of the same life experiences…

…like getting lost in the new Rockville. Classmate said he got lost trying to get to Montrose Road from where he lived back in the day. If you had lived in that neighborhood back in the ’70s you would understand how astonishing that is. 

Everyone I talked to about it agrees that Congressional Plaza is an abomination now. They took a lovely example of 60s mid century modern sandstone and glass architecture and paneled everything over and made it 21st century kitsch and it’s horrible.

I tried to do the place it once was justice on an episode of A Coming Out Story


by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on 50th Reunion – The Morning After (continued…)

50th Reunion – The Morning After…

50th class reunion yesterday was amazing and wonderful. The crowd gathered around my Woodward photography slide show toward the end was especially gratifying.

Initially we were going to project it on a big screen but could not get the pre-HDMI projector to work with any of the connectors on my Mac. So we went with a large monitor instead, and my laptop next to it with the screen up and set for a two monitor display. That not only worked, it got the classmates to gather around the displays and talk to each other about what was in the photos, who was doing what, and generally what was happening back in the day. I don’t think any of that would have happened had people just been able to sit back and watch the slide show from their tables. It was such a blast reliving those images with everyone.

I haven’t felt this good inside in a long, Long time…

I’ll post more later…still just waking up…and I have to do some grocery shopping after my Disney vacation…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on 50th Reunion – The Morning After…

September 4th, 2022

A Change Of Scenery

Vacation” becomes an awkward concept when you’re retired. Isn’t every day a vacation? Kind of? Okay, there is housework to do. Yardwork. Appointments to keep with the doctor, the mechanics. But it isn’t like you’re living to the clock anymore. What “Vacation” becomes instead I think, is Change of Scenery.

And to that effect I and my car (Spirit, the Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan) are boarding the AutoTrain soon for a trip to Florida and Disney World (is it even Walt Disney World anymore?) and a first time visit to Universal. As usual, neighbors and the alarm company will watch the house while I’m away. My new alarm system has cameras inside and out I can monitor remotely, and I can even let a neighbor inside remotely to check on things if that’s necessary. 

I’m trying Universal this next Florida trip since Chapek seems not to want us middle class retirees at Disney World anymore, and single people aren’t allowed to make dinner reservations in a lot of spots I used to love. Universal is smaller and its tickets are about where Disney’s are in terms of price. But they aren’t doing park reservations, they have a bunch of interesting stuff in there, singles can make dining reservations and there is an actual Margaritaville restaurant on the premises. I’ve been to the original Margaritaville in Key West, and the food and drink were very good. Loved the atmosphere, loved the Cheeseburger In Paradise. We’ll see if the one at Universal is as good.

And…if I like it enough they have annual passes that cost and work almost exactly like the old Disney annual passes did. Plus there is also an interesting 1950s themed hotel on premises that I might use for stays when I’m not doing DVC.

And this trip it all fitted together as if by pixie dust and magic. I had to truncate the end of my initial birthday week stay in my DVC room to be back in time for my class reunion. So I added some days at the beginning at a hotel on hotel row near Disney Springs. My two days of Disney park tickets don’t start until I check into my DVC room, so there were several days I was expecting to do nothing except Disney Springs, and maybe the miniature golf spots which are fun. Now I can do a couple days at Universal instead.

I bought two park hopping days at Universal (they only have two parks, three if you count the new water park), and downloaded their app to manage it all, just like I do with the Disney app. Supposedly there are busses that will shuttle you from hotels on hotel row to Universal. Or I can do a Lyft.

I paid for the tickets using my Disney Card. Hahahahaha… They offer me a Universal card I might just get it.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Change Of Scenery

August 28th, 2022

How To Feel Pretty After Years Of Plague

Get a haircut!

This afternoon I got my first haircut since the plague began. There’s a really good spot near The Avenue where I go called Crafted Hair. Nice folks. I feel pretty for a change. Which is a rare thing, but a good haircut helps.

I actually like wearing it long so not getting it cut for a couple years didn’t bother me. In fact I appreciated the chance to see just how long I could grow it (not more than a few inches below the shoulder as it turned out). But it became apparent that it was like letting my lawn just go to weeds. Yes it looked natural, but it was ugly and I don’t need any reinforcement about that. Unless I had it tied back in a ponytail I could not look in a mirror without thinking I looked like a strung out drug addict. So first thing I would do every morning was comb it and then tie it back or else I would not even want to look in a mirror.

Now it’s back the way I like it. It’s taken me years to finally get what to tell a professional hair stylist what exactly that I want. It was frustrating because some of them would get it instinctively but they were the rare exception. I would say “layered” and even show them some photos and sometimes they’d get it and sometimes not. Then I found out you say short, medium and long layers…but even that wasn’t quite it. This time the stylist when he got a fix on what I wanted, told me it was “shag layers”. So often it’s knowing the terms professionals use. When I came back home I googled shag layers and yeah, that’s It.

A good haircut really perks me up. Plus, I love it when I don’t have to wear it in a ponytail to keep it out of my eyes. I like hair to be long and free.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on How To Feel Pretty After Years Of Plague

August 24th, 2022

Signs Of Fall – And What Felt Like Having An Office In Paradise

I’m going to need to look for new signs of summer’s end now, since I’m not always walking around campus anymore…

That day eleven years ago I was taking a stroll over to the Student Union building to get some student food for lunch at the cafeteria there. On the way out I saw two ladies, possibly administrators, trying to manipulate a very large wooden framed blackboard on wheels out the door and up some stairs. I offered to help and we get it up up to the ground level plaza. Then I tell them I can walk with them it to wherever they are taking it and they thanked me and said no. One of them says they can always get a “strapping young man” to help them up the last of the stairs.

It was on the tip of my tongue to cheerfully reply, “They’re back in season aren’t they” but I kept my mouth shut.

This Facebook memory brings me back to those days that only ended recently. I forgot sometimes how wonderful it was to be working there, and not in some sterile soulless office park. I’d worked in lots of those before then, plus some outright industrial slums. Those were the worst. You just felt the whole environment you were surrounded by beating your soul down. By comparison the Hopkins campus felt like what Heaven must be like. The campus is situated next to a Wyman park which is fairly large, and situated next to Hampden with its row houses and eateries on The Avenue. On that side Hopkins feels very much like a park, with lots of trees and paths to wander. The students would come and go along with the seasons and you felt it like a rhythm of life. There was the season of new students, the arrival of the Institute swallows, the season of graduations, the swallows going and the parking garage suddenly quiet…a harbinger of winter. At the end of my workday I might walk down San Martin drive, over the bridge and through the woods, then to roads leading to The Avenue where I’d have dinner and a drink. 

The other side of the campus, alongside Charles Street, is city. Step outside the campus and there are food trucks, eateries, high rise apartment blocks and city busyness everywhere. Sometimes for lunch I would wander that side of Hopkins and grab a sandwich before going back to the office. The city has its seasons too…at least near the campus. There was the season of students moving in…most of the high rise apartments near the campus housed Hopkins students. There followed the season of food trucks and busy streets. Then came the season of students moving out…often announced as having arrived with the sprouting of signs telling the kids where they could sell their used textbooks. There would be students in their caps and gowns posing for family pictures by the big Johns Hopkins sign at the Charles Street entrance.  

In 23 years I built up a lot of memories wandering that campus. I felt so much at home there. I had my office space there fully equipped with a little fridge, a microwave and a coffee maker; everything I needed if the day was going to be a long one. It didn’t matter. I loved my job, and there was always the campus to take a think-walk in if I needed one. I saw the seasons come and go. I lived a life there. I’m only now beginning to realize how much.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Signs Of Fall – And What Felt Like Having An Office In Paradise

August 19th, 2022

When The People Pictures Stopped

Oscar Wilde said that if you know what you want to be, then you inevitably become it – that is your punishment, but if you never know, then you can be anything. There is a truth to that. We are not nouns, we are verbs. I am not a thing – an actor, – a writer – I am a person who does things – I write, – I act – and I never know what I’m going to do next. I think you can be imprisoned if you think of yourself as a noun. –Stephen Fry

Wise words that helped clarify something within me. I have always resisted the prison of being a thing, despite wanting to be a thing. There were times in my life I wanted to be a cartoonist, a painter, a photographer. Somehow it never worked. I became a computer programmer, a software systems engineer. It made me a very good living, and I am retiring comfortably on what I made, proud to look back on my time with the teams that worked on Hubble, James Webb, and for a brief period, Roman. But I was always bouncing back to one or more of those other things, telling myself that they were what I really wanted to be.

Eventually, as I grew older, I accepted that I just could not focus on any one of them for very long. I began to think of it as seasonal. Now is the season of drawing, now the season of cameras…the season of computers was when I was as preoccupied with computer work at home as I was at work. There was also a season of writing. There was a season of the open road, which often coexisted with the season of cameras. I came to see myself as hopelessly unfocused, unable to bring to any one of my creative arts the kind of fanatical single minded pursuit that would have got me a career in it. I blamed my cluttered mind. I would never have the large body of works other successful artists did. Randomly wandering between my arts and accomplishing very little would forever be my fate. But maybe it was that cluttered mind that was telling me something all along, that I never listened to: I am not a noun.

And now I’m old and retired, and looking back on all of it, I can see that I actually have accomplished a lot, if I take it all together instead of just looking at the nouns. My artwork has continued to improve, my photographic voice is purer, surer. I understand what I’m doing better. I’m happy with the life I had, random and bewildering though it often was. And lonely…so very lonely. But that’s another story for another time. Or not. Let me leave a small piece of that here, because it’s something I’m still wondering about.

He wasn’t the last guy I took a fancy to. I guess that would be the cute 30-something bartender at a place near The Avenue. It was hopeless of course, but not any more hopeless than all the others really. People who look like that… His name was Eddie. I met him on the gay BBS we both frequented back in the day. He was beautiful and for a time I was all about him. But he was not about me. So I played my trump card. He said he hated pictures of himself. I’m a photographer I told him. I can make you see how beautiful you are. Years later I was primed to play that card one more time, but people far wiser than I in matters of the heart decided not to allow it. People who look like that want people who look like that…

So Eddie and I went on trips into the country, and into the city, and he let my camera give him some love. The more I showed him how beautiful I saw him, the more comfortable he became with my camera. I did some of my best beautiful guy photography with him. And it was the last I ever did.

Eventually he started dating someone else and we went our separate ways.

Time passes, the universe expands, and a day came when I began revisiting the photography I did back in those gay BBS days. I posted a bunch of it on Facebook for the friends I made on that BBS, who I have stayed in touch with. Eddie wasn’t one of them…he simply disappeared, but for one time I saw him managing a booth at one of the gay marches on Washington. I asked him if he was seeing anyone, and he just sighed and told me relationships are So much work. I guess it all gets tiresome when you are so beautiful. I’ve never seen him since. That was before Facebook. So I when I posted a bunch of my gay BBS photography on Facebook, I probably only included one or two of Eddie.

But those tweaked my geek side because they were so damn hard to scan, being Kodachrome slides. Kodachrome slides are notorious for having a blue-ish tint in scans that’s very difficult to get rid of. I ended up buying a highly expensive scanning software for its ability to neutralize that tint. It was still a lot of work, and fiddling with those shots, I became re-acquainted with how beautiful Eddie was. And at some point I began to realize that I hadn’t done anything like it since.

Those shots of Eddie are the last shoots I ever did with anyone posing for me. Much, Much later I’d do some enjoyable work for Baltimore OUTloud, photographing some really beautiful guys wearing barely nothing at all (swim suit fashion shows). But those were all taken at public events and I was simply recording what was happening in front of me. But back in the day, when I was a much younger man, I actually did a lot of one-on-one shoots with a few beautiful guys who I could regularly ask out from time to time. We’d go somewhere, maybe to Great Falls, maybe somewhere in the city, and I’d snap away at them. After Eddie, that all just suddenly stopped.

I’ve been trying to understand this. I’ve been told a bunch…laughingly at times…that my photography is noticeable for it’s nearly complete absence of people. But I have the archive of it all right here in the house with me, and that absolutely wasn’t always true. I look back in time in my archives and I see most of what I did back in the day was people photography. Then the people seem to just vanish. The obvious answer is after Eddie I began to despair of ever finding love, and I didn’t want to keep looking into that abyss. 

Sometimes the pat answers are the correct ones after all. There’s a big gap in my photography right after those sessions with Eddie, where I stopped doing art altogether, along with painting and drawing. That was when I took up computer programming as a creative outlet, which led to the life I have now. In writing computer programs I was immersed in a world of pure logic that didn’t have to touch my emotions, my deepest feelings, where there was only despair. I managed to pull myself out of it the year after I got the job at Space Telescope, and found myself one day wandering among the carnival rides being set up for the student spring fair at Hopkins where STScI was located. That awakened something inside of me, and I began creating art again. But something had changed.

So I think of my artwork as having before the dead zone/after the dead zone periods. My catalogue of negatives and slides reflects that break in the numbering. But here’s the thing: There is almost zero creative people photography in the After period. And revisiting that time, I can see that the photo shoots of beautiful guys ended before the dead zone, when I stopped seeing Eddie.

The pat answer is now I’m too old to be asking beautiful young guys to pose for me. I came close to it that one time I was once more ready to throw down my trump card. But instead I was escorted from the table and shown the door, and now it’s all just despair there, in that one dark empty corner.

No more beautiful guys. You can say my art photography is purer now. I accept it. 



by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When The People Pictures Stopped

August 14th, 2022

I Spend All This Money On You And This Is The Thanks I Get??

I’m trying Universal this next Florida trip, since Chapek seems not to want us middle class retirees at Disney World anymore.

Universal is smaller and its tickets are about where Disney’s are in terms of price. But they aren’t doing park reservations, they have a bunch of interesting stuff in there, and an actual Margaritaville restaurant on the premises. I’ve been to the original Margaritaville in Key West, and the food and drink were very good. Love the atmosphere, love the Cheeseburger In Paradise!

And…if I like it enough, they have annual passes that cost and work almost exactly like the old Disney annual passes did. There is also an interesting 1950s themed hotel on premises that I might use for stays when I’m not doing DVC.

And this trip it all fits together, almost as if by destiny, as if pixie dust and magic! I had to truncate the end of my initial birthday week stay in my DVC room to be back in time for my class reunion. So I added some days at the beginning at a hotel on hotel row near Disney Springs. My two days of Disney park tickets don’t start until I check into my DVC room, so there were several days I was expecting to do nothing except Disney Springs and maybe the miniature golf spots, which are fun. Now I can do a couple days at Universal instead.

I bought two park hopping days at Universal (they only have two parks, three if you count the new water park), and downloaded their app to manage it all, just like I do with the Disney app. Supposedly there are busses that will shuttle you from hotels on hotel row to Universal.

I paid for them using my Disney Card. Hahahahaha… They offer me a Universal card I might just get it.

And you know, I don’t think Chapek and the current Disney board of directors even care if most or all of us former annual pass holders migrate over to Universal. Let them have the hoi polloi. We want the rich big money spenders…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Spend All This Money On You And This Is The Thanks I Get??

August 12th, 2022

Birthday Wishes For A Lost Friend

So my calendar is telling me that today is your birthday. How I wish we had stayed in touch. Maybe I could have helped keep you steady when the sickness started taking you. Maybe I could have got you the help you needed. Maybe I could have just been there to be someone you could trust and rely on. To listen. To be a friend. I should have been there. But we were so young, and you at least were beautiful, and the world will have its way with us. And now we’re both old men. And I will always regret not being there.

And all the roads we have to walk are winding
And all the lights that lead us there are blinding
There are many things that I would like to say to you, but I don’t know how

Peace. Take care.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Birthday Wishes For A Lost Friend

August 1st, 2022

A Life In Blog Posts

I’ve had my website for just over two decades now, originally to showcase my cartoons and photography, but it also included a blog, which back in the day were simple online diaries. I keep telling people that mine is a life blog, because most of what you find in the blogosphere are topical blogs, most of them political, and I get political lots on mine. But it’s a life blog. You might find me writing about “Adventures in home ownership” in my “department of random complaining” as much as pulpit thumping about prejudice toward gay folk.

I was looking at my server logs this morning and saw that someone, via a Google search (Google doesn’t let you see the search strings anymore) hit on a series of blog posts that I tagged with the keyword “Prejudice”. So I decided to see what they saw and followed the link back to my blog.

Is it unforgivably vain of me to look at the old stuff an be impressed with the quality of my writing? There’s a lot of good stuff in there going back years. But also, browsing a lot of old blog posts on the topic of homophobia really drives home how the current torrent of hate mongering toward us isn’t all that much different from previous waves of it. It’s like nothing ever changes in the American sewer. But at least I could get a few things off my chest. Beats yelling at the TV.

I don’t know how much longer I have, hopefully enough to finish A Coming Out Story. I’ll be 69 in just a few weeks and the way I’m feeling lately I’m finally at the point of admitting to myself that I’m actually old now. I’m tired all the time now. But I could hope that something of my art, something of my photography, and maybe my blog have a life after mine. On the blog, which is after all just a life blog, I’ve said things I felt needed to be said whether I had an audience for it or not, and my blog has never had a lot of traffic. But at least I got it out there and I’m happy with what I wrote.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on A Life In Blog Posts

June 4th, 2022

Retirement Feels…Weird…

I guess it was supposed to feel wonderful. And in some ways it does. I’m very lucky. It’s not a fabulous retirement but I can afford to pay my bills and still have some left over for a little discretionary spending. Being mostly debt free (save for the mortgage and DVC points) helps out a lot. Paying off the credit cards took a big chunk off my monthly expenses, and I’m in a situation now where I really don’t need to be using them anymore. So money wise, it’s pretty good. I can relax. What I didn’t expect was that being a problem.

My time now is all mine. And it just feels strange. Almost immediately after my last day at work I skedaddled for my brother’s place in California…a land where I’d always planned to retire to eventually. I spent a lovely three months there…the longest I’ve ever been away from home in my life…but I kept stressing about the house, and the cute little street cat I left behind. My neighbors on both sides are cat lovers and they took good care of her, but I still stressed about it. She’s a small little lady, fierce though she is, and getting very old for a street cat. And the house. I stressed a lot about how the house was doing.

I’m back home now and slowly waking the house up from the coma I put it into before leaving. Water turned back on okay…furnace/AC back on…power restored to this and that…everything looking good. The cat is fine, and I think has mostly forgiven me for going away. Now I have all the time in the world for art projects and Harry Homeowner things I’ve wanted to do. And that feels…weird.

It is more disorienting than I expected to not have work days anymore. I reckon I’ll get over it eventually, but it just feels so strange. Even during COVID lockdowns I still had office hours to keep, albeit at my home office. But still, it was a clock I had to keep, and deadlines I had to meet. And that’s all over now and even with all the stuff I have to do around the house and in the art room I feel adrift, plus feeling like I shouldn’t feel like that because I have so much to do. It’s not like there isn’t anything to do. And I’m doing stuff. I’m busy all day long. But there is no clock anymore. Things get done when they get done. Then I move on to the next thing. There is no clock tapping me on the shoulder all the time and it feels weird. 

I spent an entire adult life tied to the clock. And even when I was a kid, there was school. This isn’t summer vacation. This is something else. Something really strange.

I just had a thought that I’d buy one of those old school bells and have it ring, like at lunchtime and the end of the school day. And then I thought…NO! This is fine…I’ll get acclimatized to it. A little strangeness in your life is helpful. It keeps you thinking.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Retirement Feels…Weird…

May 18th, 2022

Yeah…I Should Probably Take All That Off My Calendar. . .

Those little tasks that remind you of the life you left behind to start a new one. The other day I deleted a bunch of reminders off my Google calendar…things like paycheck days, and logging in to certain lab and MOC machines to keep my accounts active. I suppose I could have just hidden my work calendar from view and just kept the personal calendar active, but the work calendar was as much a work diary as a reminder and I want it to be accurate. There are no more work days. At least not in the past sense.

It may seem like I waited months to do this, since I retired in February, but the fact is since I took the vacation day rollout it wasn’t official as far as Social Security or either of the retirement plans until the day of my last paycheck which was the beginning of this month. I probably could have deleted the login reminders sooner, but…well…I knew it was going to be difficult. I loved that job. But it was time to move on.

That said, I did delete the meeting reminders the day after I left the building.



by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Yeah…I Should Probably Take All That Off My Calendar. . .

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

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