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June 19th, 2021

When Which Day Of The Week It Is Stops Mattering

Since I was a schoolboy the days of the week always meant something. There is as significance in the name of the day. Monday-Friday are work days. Monday is the dreary start of the work week. Friday is the end of it. Then comes the weekend. Woo Hoo! Friday happy hour!!! What happens when none of it matters for anything in particular? There is no work week. Every day is the weekend. How does that even work?

Could be nice to find out. But I have a hunch it’ll take years before I get comfortable with it. I’ll be going to meetings in my dreams, and missing deadlines for the rest of my life. Some nights I’m still in my awful junior high school. I haven’t studied for the test and I forgot to put my clothes on. Retirement is going to be like that isn’t it.

I’m retiring at the end of this year. It’s a big step but I am really beginning to feel my age now. There’s a Hemingway quote about going broke that maps pretty well to how it is to get old: gradually, and then suddenly. I can feel it now. The heart attack happened a couple years ago, and a year after that I had another heart “event” but that’s not it. It’s the fatigue I’m feeling now practically all the time. Don Juan was absolutely right about the forth foe. So I decided to take the next step and sometime before years end apply for my social security benefit, and then take leave of the Institute after 23 years working there. The plan is to spend the last years of my life working more on my artwork and photography, maybe finish a couple stories I’ve worked on. Maybe even get some of it published.

I hope not to get dragged back into computer work…I actually enjoy programming but it’s not as close to my heart and soul as the artwork. I’m going to get shed of a ton of computer books when I retire. I kept so many books because it’s a resource I might need and because it was my profession for the last 35 years. I won’t need my computers for work anymore, but I use them heavily for my artwork these days so there is no getting rid of those. The money software engineering made me is why I can retire pretty comfortably now, if not fabulously. But it’s time to move on. For a variety of reasons I never pursued my artistic interests professionally, and so I never had enough time to spend on it.  It’s going to feel wonderful to finally have all the time I want.

And…yeah…I’ll probably still have to keep paying attention to which day of the week it is, because that’s how the world works. I need to go to the store…is today a rush hour day…maybe I should wait a while…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on When Which Day Of The Week It Is Stops Mattering

June 18th, 2021

Cycles Of Life
 
It’s almost over for this emergence. I don’t hear that distinctive whirring song anymore, just some random buzzing. There’s still a bunch of them out and about, but it isn’t the torrent it was only a few days ago. We won’t be seeing them for another 17 years, and I’m not all that confident I’ll be around then. I’ll be 84. Possible, but given my family history and the fact that I’ve already had one heart attack and one heart “event”, not very likely I think. So I’m finding time on my walks to pick a few up off the street, let them climb around my hand for a bit while I’m taking them over to a nearby tree…from which they’ll probably fly off again and back into the street.
 
I’m seeing a lot of carnage on the pavement around here. Wings, half eaten carcasses. The birds are feasting. I approached one on the sidewalk and it immediately flew off and into a tree. Fine, thinks I, you’re safer there than on the street. Then a bird jumped off another branch and pounced on the branch the cicada landed on and flew off with it. Oh well…bon appétit
 
Their batteries are running out. So I’m told they really can’t eat, or is it drink, sap or nectar or whatever it is they live on, once the transformation happens. All they have is the energy they emerged from the ground with, and I expect a lot of that was used up in the transformation. They’ve only got enough built-in energy to fly, sing, and reproduce. Then it’s over.
 
But really…that’s only how it appears to us above grounders. The next emergence actually starts before summer’s end, when the eggs hatch and the next round of nymphs falls to the ground, and digs in. We’ll start seeing a bunch of branch tips with dead leaves…that’s where the eggs were laid. I’m pretty sure by the time we notice that, the next generation will have already hit the ground and started digging. There’s an entire world below the surface we hardly ever notice. That is their world, except at the end, when they become sky creatures, if goofy ones, with a very loud song.
 
This was my third time around with them. After awhile you find yourself marking the ages of your life by some particular cycles of nature in your neighborhood. This plague year it was especially nice to have the Cicadas, since I never really got to see the Institute swallows return, which is how I know summer’s begun, and probably won’t get to see them take their leave, which is how I know summer is over. Somehow I reckon, when the song is over and the trees are quiet, it’ll seem like summer ended early. At this stage of my life, that’s to be expected, but that’s always how it feels. Summer is always over too soon.
by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Cycles Of Life

June 9th, 2021

The Wrecking Ball That Breaks Your Heart One Day, Lifts Your Spirits The Next

Time passes…the universe expands…I’ve lived long enough to see so many of my kidhood haunts coming down. Rockville it seems, is a city that just wants to eat itself all the time. Shortly after mom and I moved there, they tore down the old city center and built a doomed shopping mall they eventually tore down just a decade or so later, and then tore down what they’d built on top of that. A classmate posted that you can’t go home again, and I replied that’s especially true if home was Rockville, because you’ll get lost they’ve re-routed so many of the roads we used to drive down. I’m still stunned that Randolph Road now goes under Rockville Pike. My beloved high school got torn down recently and I’m still miserable over it, but I got a keepsake brick so there’s that. So much of my past is vanishing under the wrecking ball. But it’s not all bad. In fact, sometimes it’s wonderful.

Just heard on another page that this place is going under the wrecking ball next week. I couldn’t be more delighted. It was originally called Fritzbe’s. I have a particularly bad memory…a really Bad Memory…that place played a supporting role in. I have wanted to see it razed for decades.

What Happened:

It was a lovely summer night in 1981. I was in my middle twenties and on the downside of my second disastrous crush. We were close, or so I thought. I sent him love letters from the road while on a road trip with friends in the southwest. On my return it seemed we became even closer. But he was straight. What I learned from it is that straight guys can fall in love with other guys too, but for them it’s a purely platonic thing. For the gay guy who gets that deeply involved with a straight guy it’s a heart wrenching mess.

That night in 1981 he suggested we go to this new place that opened. It would have been at one time an easy walk, nearly a straight line from the apartment I grew up in to Congressional Plaza or the Radio Shack across the street from it. But the new Metro subway system was under construction and my path across the railroad tracks was now forever blocked, so my friend picked me up at the apartment and we went to Fritzbe’s. At Fritzbe’s I learned another lesson.

I was having a night out at a new place with the guy I was still crushing on madly. So I put on my best blue jeans and favorite shirt, got my long hair all washed and blow dried, put on my new Nike’s. But let’s face it, I was a scrawny ugly faced twenty-something no matter how well I dressed, and the summer humidity probably didn’t do wonders for my hair either. We got to the door to Fritzbe’s and there were two doormen standing there. One of them said my friend could go inside, but I couldn’t.

I was stunned. My friend told me he wanted to go in and just look around for a bit. So he did and I waited while the doormen made sure I stayed outside. When he returned it was clear to me that he wanted to spend the evening with the other cool people inside but first he had to figure out a way to dump me without making it look like he was dumping me. My memory of the rest of that night is a bit fuzzy, but I clearly recall saying something on the order of what’s wrong with me that I can’t come in I look okay, and under his breath he said “actually no you don’t”. So that was that. I politely excused myself from the evening and walked back home.

I got put in my place…which, of course I was. What was I thinking when I went out that night? Me? Really? The weird kid from the other side of the tracks. Clothes he bought at Sears or JC Penney…hair’s a mess…crooked teeth…no social skills at all…queer… Oh I know… Falling in love feels so wonderful, until the moment you hit the ground. It was impossible anyway, he was straight after all, but had the positions been reversed I’d have walked away from that place rather than go inside without my friend. I’ve actually done that a time or two. But that night I saw I was disposable. And that’s never just a circumstantial thing. It is what you are. Always.

People who look like that, want people who look like that…

Fritzbe’s eventually folded…I can’t imagine why. Well yes I can. Turn the uncool away as a matter of policy, to cultivate the shallow beautiful people, and eventually they’ll flit away to the Next Big Thing and what’s left are all the customers you might have had if you hadn’t pissed them off. So the name on the door changed but I never set foot in there. I was told not to go in and I don’t need telling twice. And now it’s going under the wrecking ball.

In its place, so I’m told, will be a massive new development of some sort that will occupy the entire block. Until that eventually gets torn down. Rockville just does that to itself. But eventually so does everywhere. The only thing that endures is the reputation you made for yourself. Whoever owned that chain and set its policies and created its theming probably made a lot of beautiful people very happy for a little while, and broke a lot of hearts for much, much longer. And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

I probably shouldn’t blame the poor building. Like Hill House in Shirley Jackson’s novel, some places cannot help but take the shape of their builders souls. And the people who occasionally occupy them. But I am definitely taking one of my cameras down to the old neighborhood and snapping a few shots of the destruction. I’m toying with the idea of taking a few c notes with me and asking the wrecking crew if I can pay them to let me take a few whacks at it myself. But probably I’ll just go watch for a while, snap a few photos, and applaud at inappropriate moments.

I could hope they sow the ground with salt afterward. But concrete and asphalt will do.

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Wrecking Ball That Breaks Your Heart One Day, Lifts Your Spirits The Next

March 26th, 2021

Is Anything After All…Real…?

I’m insomnia scrolling on Facebook early this morning, and a set of photographs pops into view. It’s my old high school being torn down completely…the one A Coming Out Story takes place in…


Photos by Christopher Cherry

I thought they were going to do an extensive remodeling, not a complete teardown and rebuild. That’s what the plans looked like to me anyway.

It really feels like looking at the end of life, but it’s worse than I imagined it would be, because it’s not enough that I die someday…it’s that everything I ever loved has to die too.  Not just Woodward…nearly nothing of the old neighborhood exists anymore. Just try to follow some of the old roads and paths now.

Maybe I will sell the house after all and go live in a trailer somewhere in the desert. Did I have that life? Was any of it real? Am I real?

This stabs worse than I could have imagined. I’d rather have seen an empty lot than those pictures. That senior year I had there was one of the best years of my life, difficult though it was in some ways. I had a really difficult time in just about every other grade school I attended, but I felt embraced by the people and the culture at Woodward in a way I’ve never felt anywhere else since. It set me on a path forward in life I wouldn’t have bothered walking otherwise, because there wouldn’t have been anything inside of me to make me believe I could do anything with my life.

So it goes…

 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Is Anything After All…Real…?

March 23rd, 2021

Sometimes It’s The Little Things Nobody Notices That Make You Fall In Love With A Place

I’m old and decrepit I reckon, but I’ve done the rides, I’ve done the parks and still love them, I’ve done the cute little miniature golf spots, and it’s all okay. But what really enchants me about my Disney World vacations are the walking paths around the DVC resorts. It’s like a walker’s paradise here. I do a slow morning walk every day, coffee mug in hand, when the weather allows, which is usually. You get up early enough and you have the pathways pretty much to yourself.

When I’m staying at Boardwalk my morning routine used to be a walk down the canal path to Hollywood Studios and straight to The Writer’s Stop for my morning coffee and danish. But when Starbucks opened there they closed The Writer’s Stop because I guess Starbucks couldn’t endure even the competition of a little coffee snack and bookshop. So now it’s I make my own coffee in the room and just do the stroll along that lovely canal.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Sometimes It’s The Little Things Nobody Notices That Make You Fall In Love With A Place


Budgeting For The End Of Maintenance Phase

Took a brief walk to Disney Springs (formerly Pleasure Island…) to look for a good glass or mug to drink out of, instead of the cheap foam (but plastic wrapped for your safety!) cups we’ve been supplied here in the luxury villas (NOT hotels) since and I suppose because of COVID. Because…I dunno…I think I should be putting Night Train Express into a disposable cup over ice not Grand Marnier. Plus, I had dinner reservations at the Edison then, and I wanted to scope out how they were letting guests in who just walk over from Saratoga Springs. The Edison has a very large interior multi-level eatery with good air circulation. And it’s themed as a 1930s Los Angeles speakeasy that was hidden in an old abandoned Edison electric power plant. I love it.

So they’re funneling us all into a temperature check, but access by foot is still very easy from this hotel (Villa!) and they gave me a room in a really good location for walking to Disney Springs…possibly because I told them on a previous trip that that’s what I wanted for the express purpose of walking over.

I went over looking for a nice Disney souvenir glass or mug. I came back with three. Because I found three I liked and the wallet only started complaining when I kept looking after three. Whenever I go vacationing the first thing is I set a ceiling on expenditures not related to travel (hotels…fuel…food…that stuff is budgeted for before I set out). So I have here what you might call a pot of discretionary money. It’s for shiny things I see that I want to take home with me and all I have to think about is how good is that money pot just then. I keep my register chits and look them over nightly and re-adjust my pot of money to buy shiny things. When I retire that kind of casual spending will have to stop completely because I’m taking a fifty percent income cut.

I’ve already built a pretty extensive budget spreadsheet and run a few scenarios and it all looks good, if not fabulous. I was raised by a single divorced mother and we got along very well on her limited income. It won’t be like I know the drill so much as it got pretty well ingrained into me at a young age how to live within your means. (That Baptist waste not want not thing also helps. At least it helps me be diligent about recycling.) But from that point on I’ll have to think about Everything I spend. I’ve always done that with the big ticket items, but I do a lot of casual spending…within a monthly pot of money I put aside just for that. From retirement onward that pot of money is gone, or at the very least it’s a hell of a lot smaller, and it’ll be I have to think about Everything.

I can do it. Plus, an amazingly Dumb article on CNBC about how folks making 400k a year are only just scraping by gives me some encouragement. (Hey…these families only drive Toyotas, not “Lambos”, have some sympathy. Yes…the writer actually used “Lambo” for Lamborghini…that tells us something about where he’s coming from…) Even allowing for the fact that the writer uses the most expensive locals in the nation as a cost of living baseline, there’s still an ocean of expenditures this man thinks of as necessities that the rest of us could only dream about. As one commenter put it, the people the writer is talking about are measuring their wealth by looking at the people above them who Do drive “Lambos” and thinking themselves middle class because they don’t…the rest of us are ants.

So much so obvious. Fred Clark observed years ago how it is that big city newspapers might have a Business section, but no newspaper has a Labor section. And it’s gotten worse since. Commercial news media is populated, at least at the management level if not totally at the worker bee level, by very wealthy people who live in that world exclusively, believe themselves to be middle class, and just don’t get how the vast numbers of their fellow Americans live. Trips to the country diner to talk with people wearing MAGA hats notwithstanding.

So it was gratifying to read the ants responding to that CNBC article, point by point some of them. Some were struggling on 20k a year or less. Others saying they were comfortable living on 40-50k a year, just not somewhere homes were selling for 5 or 6 million bucks.

I’ll be doing a bit better than that. I’ve a lot going for me when I retire…chief among them the house I bought for less than ninety grand. Yeah it’s worth lots more than that now, but the point is that my monthly mortgage payments will still be well within the week’s take home pay amount I stood firm on back when I started my home search years ago. Plus, the neighborhood is such that I could live a carless life if I had to without any difficulty. Everything I need on a day to day basis is within walking distance of the house. Which is probably a big reason why its value has soared over the years.

I’m treating this Disney vacation as possibly the last one I’ll take for a long, long time…because there won’t be any such thing as a discretionary vacation at Disney World from then on, let alone the discretionary money to pay for it. On the other had I’ll be retired so the entire concept of “vacation” is moot.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Budgeting For The End Of Maintenance Phase

March 7th, 2021

This Year’s Corpse Food


“Comfort food a’la hopelessness and plague, on Fiestaware and 1950s chrome and formica table”. Collection of the author.

 

Pierogies,  Hot Cider Bourbon, and Chicken Fried Steak entree at Rocket To Venus here in Hampden. Because they’re local and I like them lots, and whoever is running their kitchen knows what they’re doing, and their carry-out process seems way more COVID safe than Corner Stable, which makes you walk inside their tiny restaurant (it really was at one time a corner stable) and walk all the way to the back by the bar.

A friend on Facebook pointed out that this didn’t look so good for a heart patient to be snarfing down. I laughed. My heart? My heart? I thought it had died of loneliness years ago and the rest of my body was just living on inertia and disbelief. But the food is good.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on This Year’s Corpse Food

February 26th, 2021

Zeno’s Race To The Vaccine

Bunch of friends tried to help me get a vaccine appointment today. I got leads on almost half a dozen possible locations/companies/mass vaccination sites. I love my friends!

Were any available where I was pointed to? Not a single one. It seems by the time knowledge gets to me, however it does, they’re already booked solid. But I really do appreciate the thought.

I’ve had some almost excessively good luck in my life. But there are these recurring situations where I am always falling through the cracks. My love life for example. Mental health not being so great, but not so bad as to warrant any support. Not artsy enough to be taken seriously as an artist, and not nerdy enough to be taken seriously as a computer professional. I tend to bore people and I get talked over a lot. I feel most of the time like I’m some sort of misplaced inventory. Like I’m really not supposed to be here. This seems to be another one of those things.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Zeno’s Race To The Vaccine

February 25th, 2021

Life In A Plague Reality Show…

I’m out for my evening walk as I’m desperately trying to stay active in some limited fashion while trying to avoid the plague, and and I’m thinking that either this plague or social isolation is going to get me, one or the other, and suddenly I realize Firesign Theater only played the last half of that show Beat The Reaper…the part where one lucky contestant has to guess what fatal disease they have, and Beeeet The Reaper!

But the first half is a dozen lucky contestants get to run through a spray mist of some deadly disease and race to get the vaccine. 12 lucky contestants, but only 6 doses of vaccine! But it’s okay dear friends, because the odds of actually contracting this weeks’ disease is only 50-50. Last week it was Ebola and almost all our lucky contestants managed to Beat The Reaper.

Let’s have a big round of applause for this week’s lucky contestants! (music plays) Who knows what this week’s racers will have to face. Maybe they’ll make it to the shots in time! They’ll only find out when they get to the vaccine station and try to grab a seat before the others do. Maybe the rest won’t even catch the disease!

(Clock music plays…)

Oh I’m sorry…you didn’t Beat The Reaper. But aren’t they a swell bunch of contestants. (music plays) Let’s let them see the consolation prize, brought to us here on Beat The Reaper by our favorite sponsor, Ralph Spoilsport coffins…the World’s Largest New Used and Used New coffins here in the city of (deep breath) emphysema.

Let’s just look at the extras on this fabulous coffin…star studded mud guards, chrome fender dents, wire wheel spoke coffin dollies, two-way sneeze through air vents, sponge coated edible coffin handles, fully factory equipped satin cushions from our fully factory equipped satin cushioned factory. Yes dear friends it’s a beautiful coffin with doors to match! Birtch’s Blacklist says this coffin was Stolen, but for you dear friends complete price: only two-thousand-ninety-five hundred dollars in easy monthly payments of twenty dollars a week twice a week and never on Sunday! (music plays…audience applause)

Why isn’t this a reality show we can watch now? It’ll be a ratings hit!

Oh wait…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Life In A Plague Reality Show…

January 27th, 2021

Stressing My Way To Retirement

Some days you get so wrapped up in your job, and so stressed out over it (I haz Deadline!) that you wonder if you’re even going to make it to retirement.

It’s okay. Mine is not the sort of job I’d regret not making it to retirement working. It’s just some days…some days…I get so damn frazzled…and then a pit in my stomach that probably won’t go away for the rest of the night…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Stressing My Way To Retirement

January 26th, 2021

Ah Yes…Plan ‘B’…

Looking though the blog archives, I came across this post from before we had our nuclear war.

That box had become quite full in four years. I just kept running across stuff and thinking oh, he’d like this. Mostly Hubble and JWST stuff. I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it all away, so I took your name off the box and now it’s just a random box in my closet full of this and that with seemingly no common denominator. I’ve no idea what to do with it. Most likely because I don’t like thinking about it.

Do you still believe in do-overs? I know someone down there who deserves one way more than either one of us.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ah Yes…Plan ‘B’…

January 4th, 2021

Ahhh…First Morning Back To Work After The Holidays…

That morning cup of coffee really wakes a person up. Especially when the first mouthful tells you that you forgot to put the sugar in.

I like my coffee like I like my men. Sweet.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Ahhh…First Morning Back To Work After The Holidays…

January 1st, 2021

Oh The Difference A Decade Makes…

On January one, twenty-eleven I was into my second decade at Space Telescope and amazed to be starting work on James Webb.

Barack Obama was president of the United States and it seemed like that long darkness that was the Bush years was over and the nation had been restored to sanity.

I was several years into ownership of my first Mercedes-Benz…a cute little white ‘C’ 300. By the end of 2011 I’d trade it in for my dream come true car…a Mercedes-Benz diesel sedan.

I was a decade into home ownership…a cute little Baltimore rowhouse, a dream I never thought would ever come true. It was within walking distance of where I worked, grocery stores, shopping, restaurants and bars…everything I needed for my day to day life.

I had reconnected with my high school crush after decades of searching for him, and he started flirting with me again just like he did back in high school and I was walking on air again just like I did back in high school. But it was even more terrifying than it was back then because he was deeply closeted and married and I really didn’t want to get in the middle of that. Later that summer of 2011 some sort of personal crisis happened, he dropped out of sight for three months, and when he reappeared he sat me down and we had the strangest miserable conversation I’ve ever had with anyone, and that includes the time someone on mom’s side of the family assured me less than an hour after we’d laid her body to rest in its grave that I couldn’t be family unless I was the same degree of Christian they were.

So it’s a decade later…

I’ve lived through my first heart attack and an atrial fibrillation that sent my heart rate to over 210 beats per minute. EMT told me she’d never seen a heart rate as fast as mine just then in her entire career. 

The Mercedes diesel sedan is paid for.

My little Baltimore rowhouse is still mine, but only halfway paid for. It’s value has increased with the building of many matchstick “luxury” townhouses (they stop calling them rowhouses after the first hundred grand…) nearby. I have a lot of work planned for it this coming year, including new storm doors, a pull down ladder to the roof hatch, and repairs to the front porch tiles. There’s at least two more planks in the backyard deck I’ll be needing to replace. I might have the old carpet taken up and see what condition the wood floor is in…neighbors have had theirs refinished and they look very nice. Also on the wish list is new counter tops and kitchen cabinet doors. And a parking pad. With a charging station. Maybe.

My high school crush and I are not speaking to each other and I’m wondering if fate didn’t actually deal me the lesser of two miseries because I discovered that we’re not very compatible. My sense of humor grates on him, which is probably a cultural difference more than I’m fine with my sexual orientation and he isn’t. But it was his attempts to constrict me into something a little less exuberant after I’d spent decades freeing myself from inhibitions and self doubt beaten into me by schoolyard bullies that really grated on me. I began to feel like I was being suffocated. There’s accepting yourself, your whole self, and there’s accepting that some people will hate you for being that person, even down to the things you can’t help being. By the time we’d reconnected I’d accepted both those things so thoroughly that I think in retrospect it unnerved him. I had to be reined in and I am constitutionally unable to be that.

Oh…and my fellow countrymen elected a racist grifting con man to the White House, and now having lost reelection because he was such a crappy president, is now trying along with the republican party to end The United States of America so he can remain in office in perpetuity. Who would have thought that the party of god fearing patriotism would burn it all down they moment they thought they had a good chance at it.

I’m still working at Space Telescope, in and out of the Mission Operations Center, and now I have a bit of the upcoming Roman Space Telescope, named for Nancy Grace Roman, NASA’s first chief astronomer, who paved the way for space telescopes focused on the broader universe.

My regrets are, as usual, focused almost entirely on matters of the heart. But I think I’m somewhere now that I can see a bit more clearly, that all the what if’s I’ve tormented myself with all these years don’t matter a whit. Nothing I could have done would have changed anything. Let me share a bit of geezer wisdom with you, acquired by yours truly at great personal cost. It’s not how well two people get along that matters, it’s how well they don’t get along. Never mind how perfectly in sync they are politically and intellectually. It matters not that their laughter delights, that their smiles linger. How complementary their personalities are while they’re both in a good mood is of slight importance. When skies are blue everything is easy. It’s how things go when the skies darken and you can hear thunder in the distance. That is where you can see their future. How deep the threads of fondness and desire weave is but a passing moment. To paraphrase a certain someone, happiness is like farting…it stinks for a little while and then it’s gone. It’s the bad moods that matter. How do two people deal with anger. Is the reflex to go to their separate corners and sulk for a while and then have fierce makeup sex, or is it to hoist the Jolly Roger and start lobbing cannonballs?

It’s a new decade and I’d tell myself it’s all for the best and I probably don’t know how good I have it really, except I don’t know if I’ll still have a country when it ends. Or how much longer I have to live. That first heart attack really focuses you on that question. The upside is, as I wrote previously, you stop giving a fuck about a lot of things you probably never should have in the first place.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Oh The Difference A Decade Makes…

December 31st, 2020

Happy Same Old New Year!

Tom Tomorrow (aka Dan Perkins) is a cartoonist I’ve followed avidly since I first saw his cartoons in the local alternative weeklies (many of which have gone belly up in the print news devastation). I love his strip This Modern World, and when I needed a new host for my own personal website I did an nslookup to see who his was, thinking that if they were cool with his cartoons they’d be cool with mine and my blog.

He suffered a divorce a few years ago and he’s occasionally bled about it on twitter. Apparently it was sudden and unexpected. This thread he posted today this New Year’s Eve speaks to me so much…

“Three years ago today I was crawling out of the wreckage of a previous life, moving into my new apartment in New York on the coldest day of the year, absolutely no clue what lay ahead…”

“Some of it was very good and some of it not so much … and then we got to March, 2020 and everything sort of flatlined…”

“I wasn’t expecting to live the life I have now, but … it’s definitely been interesting. And sometimes, really good!”

That is so much me in many ways. And yet, my situation could not be more different. I reckon that speaks to the universal human condition. I didn’t suffer a divorce, but that’s because I never had the lover. The breakups in my life did not happen after years and years of peace and joy and happiness. So they would not have been as wounding. I suppose. Instead the wound was a never ending cloudy drizzly sky I somehow became accustomed to. A constant ache from a place within that should not have been so empty for so long. There was nothing in my romantic life to loose. But I lost everything. And now I’m 67, and given my own set of recent events, health-wise, I’m not sure I have a lot of life left.

Loosing both parents changes you. Old age changes you. The first heart attack, or whatever that first serious brush with death due to an aging body is, changes you. In some ways for the better. You kinda stop giving a flying fuck about things you probably never should have anyway. The regrets you’ve carried with you all this time get shuffled and re-arranged, and maybe some of them weren’t all that worth carrying around anyway. Baggage is dropped. But then fresh baggage is picked up along the way. It always is.

It’s odd in a way for me the elder man to be watching how the younger ones deal with their life’s knife wounds in a way that teaches me how to live with mine…at least a tad. I wasn’t expecting to live the life I have now, but…it’s definitely been interesting. And sometimes, really good! Yeah…I can relate. And especially to a previous tweet he put out there about how nobody wants to hear about getting kneecapped by love…probably because they’ve all been kneecapped too at some point and nobody knows how to deal with it. Yeah…I can relate. Absolutely. Somewhat.

And here’s the thing…all those times in my life when I’ve been asked/challenged/preached to, in the context of a discussion relating to my sexual orientation, if I had it to do over would I still want to be a homosexual…in the expectation that of course I would choose to be a heterosexual…all those times I may have stared back at them like they were from another planet…what’s going through my mind just then is You’re heterosexual and you’ve lived your entire life in that world and you’re trying to tell me that the grass is greener on Your side of the fence?? What have you been smoking all this time?

I’m sorry for what happened to you Mr. Perkins. I’m sorry for what happens to all of us. Somehow we manage. What I learned in 2020 is romantic alienation did not prepare me at all for imposed alienation. This is worse. In a world full of broken hearts at least we had each other…

“…but man I miss the possibility of a weekly hangout in that dive bar.”

…and our favorite local bar.

Here’s to the new year. May the day come quickly when we can at last all be brokenhearted together once more.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Happy Same Old New Year!

August 29th, 2020

Approaching 67. . .

I follow several Mercedes-Benz pages on Facebook. This popped up this morning on one of them…

Yes, they’re talking about automobiles there, but you can take that a bunch of different ways. And especially when you’re well on your walk into old age. 

That first heart attack…assuming you survive it…gives you some perspective. Things that may have once nagged at you, or caused you some distress, all the what ifs and should haves, they stop mattering as much. And some just fade away as you look at them again from the new vantage point. That…really wasn’t all that important after all was it…?

It’s not, at least for me, the feeling that I don’t have much time left. Somehow deep inside I’ve never assumed I had any. Read the newspapers…people die all the time, young and old, suddenly, unexpectedly, and there it is…the end. The heart attack hasn’t really changed my thinking on that any. What’s changed is my perspective.

The torrent of love and support I got from friends, family (in California) and coworkers actually surprised me. After a lifetime of singleness, my working hypothesis had become that while I was perhaps well liked, nobody really cared all that much. I was unlovable. That had to be it or I wouldn’t be so alone. Somehow I just got used to that, and managed not to kill myself. I thank the art gene in me. And also I reckon, being an only child. We onlies are almost preternaturally good at keeping ourselves company. The outpouring of support I got while recovering was a big help. I wasn’t as alone as I thought I was. I actually do matter to a few people. 

To some I don’t, and never will, and that’s okay. No Meatloaf, objects in the rear view mirror are not closer than they seem. They’re behind you. That moment Death taps you on the shoulder…out of nowhere, except it was always there. It was there with you from the moment you were born. Now if it walks away again, then it was trying to get your attention. Keep your eyes on the road. Look ahead. Adventure is there. Everything that you didn’t know before, everything you haven’t yet seen, is there. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Approaching 67. . .

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