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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. . .

June 15th, 2020

Why Are You Still Single? It Has To Be You Fucked Up Somehow.

This came across my Feedly feed today…from George Takei’s blog…

People Confess Why They Are Still Single

“Why are you single?” –– And just like that, Redditor Uninfectedl got to the point, asking a question that hits a sore point for so many of us.

The poster, Alan Jude Ryland says they’re single because they’re enjoying singleness. Lots of people do. But lots of us feel trapped and beaten down, especially as the usual thinking is you’re just not doing it right and it’s your own damn fault. You looser.

Here are my reasons…

1) I’m gay. We’re a minority. I had a Much smaller pool of potential dates to start with. Strike one.

2) I came of age during a period when gay folk were almost universally hated. So no socializing among gay teens and young adults as arranged by helpful caring adults. No dances, no proms, no anything to help guide us into making the right choices, finding the one that’s right for you. Strike two.

3) No stories about same sex romances, no songs on the radio, no movies or TV, no examples of how to grow up and find love. We were invisible at best, at worst we were dangerous deviants, sissyboy weaklings, psychopaths and predators. Straight kids got the happily ever after, we got the gutter. Strike three.

4) Too many people in my world when I was coming of age, all the way through my twenties and thirties, felt it was their sacred moral duty to break up any budding same sex romances and keep young lovers far, far apart for their own good. That happened to me over and over. Strike four.

5) The sort of guys I was attracted to, the nice boys, the ones I might have met in a better world at a church social or coffee house, were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them. They didn’t want god to hate them. Strike five.

6) People who look like that want people who look like that. Strike six and game over.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Why Are You Still Single? It Has To Be You Fucked Up Somehow.

June 8th, 2020

Memories Of Standing On The Outside Of The Comfort Zone Looking In

Facebook tossed this memory from today, 2015 in my face just now. I was visiting Walt Disney World and I had to vent…

Some days I visit he’s being a jerk and doesn’t want to talk to me. Others, like last night, he’s all warm smiles and cheerful eyes and just can’t stop talking and we stay long past park closing time and I’m walking on air all the way back to my room. But then it’s always why can’t we spend some time together outside the park and his comfort zone won’t allow it.

So either way I have to struggle to get my vacation started back up again. If he’s grouchy then I’m miserable and just want to go home. I’ve called vacations off early when it’s been that. If he’s full of sunshine and smiles then I feel like I’ve hit the high point of my trip and why bother staying. There’s that back to the reality of things after the visit let-down to climb back out of somehow. I have to remind myself I need the break regardless.

This morning I’ll hit the grocery store for some perishables I couldn’t bring down with me, and more ice tea, and maybe something from the liquor store so I’m not always paying Disney prices for alcohol. Then spend the rest of the week chilling out, maybe working some more on A Coming Out Story (I brought my drawing things). But I’m in a state now I really have no words for, or at any rate words I’m willing to speak. He said something to me that lifted me out of myself in a way only someone who really gets you can. And it took a load off my psyche certain other gay someone’s I know weighed me down with for years.

It was all about how I don’t interact well with people. Too shy, too self absorbed, blah, blah, blah, your photography has no people in it, blah, blah, blah… Biergarten is “Octoberfest” seating, which means you get seated at a table with other random guests and you’re expected to talk and share a good time together. This time I was seated with a group that seemed really stand-offish. They just gave off chilly vibes. But after a while I got them talking about where they’re from and what they do, and of course when they found out I work at Space Telescope and on Hubble and James Webb they got all interested in that. And by the end of the night we were all chatting happily.

And after they left he and I were chatting and he noticed too how chilly that group was initially. He’s worked this line of business for so long now he can probably read a table the second he walks up to it. Then he said he’d always seen me open people up and that I was good at it and that I was always getting everyone talking and having a good time no matter how chilly the table seemed at first.

Well…yeah… One thing is you always know you’re with other Disney people here…so that’s something. It’s not like you’re in some random bar with bad mood people. We’re all Disney people here. And that Disney kid just comes out of me here. It’s a kind of freedom to be that kid I once was I never really appreciated I was missing before I started coming here. But I’m not the hopelessly detached single certain other people somehow managed to convince me I am either. I’m not that…so how did I get to thinking of myself like that? He just pulled that out of me with a few words and the look on his face when he said it.

He does that. It’s when someone shows you things about yourself you didn’t know, but should have known, that makes it serious. And…it’s been like that since we were teenagers. When he’s not in a touchy mood, it’s still like that.

But we never got the chance other kids did. And now he has his comfort zone, and I need to get on with my vacation. Somehow.

It was around this time that I’d figured out that if I told him in advance I was coming down he wouldn’t have anything to do with me, but if I just showed up it was all smiles and happy face and good times. Something just less than a year later we had nuclear war…I’d told him I was coming down and he lied about being on a ski trip and I shouldn’t bother and I came down anyway and he was so stand-offish even the new servers there noticed something was wrong with him. Afterward he sent me a nastygram telling me never to speak to him again and I blew up because I hadn’t done anything wrong or said anything to him I hadn’t said dozens of times before…and it was all over, and with it every memory I ever had about it being good…wonderful even. It’s amazing what tricks memory can play on you. If it wasn’t for these occasional Facebook memories I wouldn’t remember it ever being good with him now, not even back in high school. But it was. I wasn’t twitterpated for no reason. He felt it too. But whereas it lifted me out of myself, erased every shred of guilt or shame I might have had, it must have done the opposite to him.

…which set a pattern for the rest of my life. Because I would always fall for the nice boys…the ones I might have met in a better world at a church social, or coffee house. But in the world I grew up in all those nice boys were terrified. They didn’t want their families to hate them, they didn’t want God to hate them.

I’ve made my allegiances, I have to stay in my comfort zone…

So it goes. I reckon. I should get back to work on A Coming Out Story now that Facebook gave me that. But everything from back in the day is bad now. I finally found the guy I wrote about in this blog post (link) and he didn’t win his race. His life took a really bad turn through no fault of his and discovering that is really heartbreaking. And now this Facebook memory is something else to tap me on the shoulder, and whisper in my ear that everything is pointless.

In my senior years I’m basically just walking forward on auto pilot, going through the motions because what else is there to do…

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on Memories Of Standing On The Outside Of The Comfort Zone Looking In

June 5th, 2020

The Path With Heart In A Time Of Darkness

There are moments lately I feel like a prisoner in my own house; not the one I’m paying a fixed mortgage on, but the house within, the one with the endless mortgage. It’s been quite a year so far, if I start counting from the month of my heart attack. The doctor who wheeled me into the operating room for my angioplasty said I seemed very calm for someone who’d just been told he was having a heart attack. I said that now at least I knew what was happening. The thing of it is, knowledge doesn’t always make you feel better, but at least it brings an inward steadiness. Now you have a reference point. An island of calm in a landscape of uncertainty.

I apologize to friends who may be thinking that I’m withdrawing lately. I’m probably still in a state of shock. Finding out what happened to a friend from my teen years has knocked me for a loop in a way even mom’s death did not. In the normal course of life you expect to outlive your parents, deep dark grief though it is when it comes. To loose track of a friend, carefree, smart, good hearted, beautiful, for decades, only to find them lost to mental illness, and homelessness shakes the few certainties you managed to hold on to in your old age. Something taps you on the shoulder and whispers in your ear, “Everything is pointless.”

Yes it is. But no it isn’t. Don Juan said, “All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long long paths, but I am not anywhere. Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other doesn’t. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.” The subtle truth you learn is that while the path with heart can be a joyful journey, joy does not erase the darkness any more than knowledge does. But at least there is calm.

I have managed to be one with all the paths I’ve followed since I was a teenage boy. I am still. I have my art. I have my tools. I am one with my path. But paths don’t always make it plain where they go. You hope for the best, you walk forward expectantly, always with your eyes wide open. But it’s the path you follow because that is the path with heart. You try to keep in mind that it goes nowhere. Even so, you are somewhere. Eric Sevareid said Hillary climbed the mountain not because it was there, but because he was.

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on The Path With Heart In A Time Of Darkness

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