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May 4th, 2024

Return Of The Non-Native

I joke that I’m a Californian exile, but it’s not all that bad. I’ve lived in Maryland nearly all my life and Maryland has been good to me. Much Much better than anywhere else mom was likely to resettle after the divorce. Either Pasadena where I was born, or Oceano where my dad’s side lives, would have been nicer for a gay kid growing up, but had she been able to go back to her former home in Pennsylvania I might have been driven to suicide once the hormones started percolating. 

And now I’m back in my little Baltimore rowhouse after another extended vacation in Oceano, and if it’s taught me anything it’s that trying to split my time between Maryland and California just won’t work. Either I move out there, which I can’t afford now because both renting and owning there on the coast are way beyond my means, or I stay here in Baltimore in my little Baltimore rowhouse with an easy mortgage payment, where I can walk to everything I might need on a daily basis, and just visit California for a few weeks at a time, but not for months at a time.

The pro of staying in California…somehow…is I get to spend time in the land of my birth, a place I’ve always felt deep down inside is my true home. It calls to me in a way nowhere else does. But I’ve lived for so much of my life in Maryland can I really say I’m a native Californian anymore? Technically yes, I was born there. Culturally it’s another thing. I notice the difference in mindsets and attitudes all the time while I’m there. I feel comfortable among them, at least the coastal Californians. I would be happy to spend the rest of my life among them. But in a way it’s like living here in Baltimore after having grown up in the DC suburbs. I’m comfortable living among the people here too. I enjoy their company. And the local food here is delicious. But I know deep down inside I am not one of them.

That might be that perpetual feeling of otherness that comes with being a barely post Stonewall gay kid in the late 60s/early 70s. Plus the constant static I got from my bitter Baptist grandmother for being my father’s son. But there is a truth there too. Baltimore has its own culture, as does coastal California versus central Maryland, and I am more Maryland than California.

Maryland has been good to me. It was one of only two states that gave same sex couples the right to marry by popular vote. Even California couldn’t work itself up to that. I blame the central valley. I got a very good public school education here in Montgomery county. I made many lifelong friends. I had good jobs once I got into micro computer programming, managed to buy a nice house within walking distance to everything I need including my office at Space Telescope. I have my dream come true car. I can spend my retirement here comfortably. I could wish it were different, but given how good Maryland has been to me it seems ungracious. 

So I think the die is cast. I can’t afford to move to California, I can’t afford to stay there months at a time and maintain my home in Baltimore too, and I’ve got it so easy here in Maryland now, both financially and situationally, it would be foolish to throw that advantage away. I can go visit California from time to time and be immersed in the land of my birth. But Maryland gave me a home.

by Bruce | Link | React!

January 8th, 2024

Getting Ready For It

Usually I put the dishes in the dishwasher before bed and let it run overnight, then unpack it the next morning. My mornings are usually pretty aimless these days until I am fully awake. Usually that’s after coffee, my morning exercises, and a morning walk. This is my retirement morning routine I reckon.

But a little tick I’m noticing in myself now is whenever there’s a big storm in the forecast I make double sure to get all the dishes clean and put away, and take care of anything else that needs doing in the kitchen, such as make more ice tea. So when I wake up I don’t have to do anything except make coffee and breakfast, and try to figure out how my day is going while scoping out what’s going on outside.

Weather happens, la de da. I grew up in central Maryland, I am familiar with how the sky does its thing over the seasons. Maryland skies aren’t as dramatic as Florida and Kansas skies, but I have watched them all my life. Our weather is mostly pretty bland compared to elsewhere. The big storms are interlopers, exciting, possibly dangerous, demanding more attention than normal. In the morning I want to be ready.

Looks now like the action here in Charm City is late Tuesday and into early wednesday, then it clears out quickly. But then comes another one. This seems like a pattern settling in. We’ve been somewhat lucky these have been happening in warm air. If one of these happens when we’re getting a cold snap it’s going to dump a ton of snow on us.

by Bruce | Link | React!

March 23rd, 2016

Baltimore Orioles! No…Not Those…The Other Ones…

The Baltimore Oriole is the state bird of Maryland. I’ve only seen one in my entire life. Until just a few moments ago.

I was walking across campus to go get lunch. I was crossing a pedestrian bridge over San Martin Drive when I heard something moving in the undergrowth below me. I looked down and saw something move. It was a bird. At first I thought it was a robin, but something didn’t look right. It was a close match for a robin, but noticeably smaller, and with bright white blazes on wings that were much Much darker than a robin. Then I saw two more. They were digging through patches of old dead leaf on the ground by the university president’s house, looking for their own lunch I suppose. can’t be, thinks I. So I watch carefully. There could be no mistake. Oh my God, thinks I, three Baltimore Orioles! Those are three Baltimore Orioles! I’m looking at three Baltimore Orioles! In Baltimore!

What a Baltimore Oriole might look like:

Photo by Kimberly King from  the Massachusetts Audubon Society page



by Bruce | Link | React!

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