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August 26th, 2023

Approaching 70

Facebook memories this morning brings me back to a Pearls Before Swine cartoon I riffed on briefly a couple years ago. Rat is harassing Stephan about how old he is, asking him if he was alive during World War 2, and Stephan says he wasn’t born until 23 years after that war ended, at which point Rat brings up the fact that his prom was 34 years ago.

Ha ha. Yeah…

My prom would have been 52 years ago now. I’ll be 70 shortly. Oddly enough, still regretting I didn’t get my prom. Or those first dates. Gay teens didn’t exist back in 1971.

Could have been worse I suppose. I could have been born right after the war instead of eight years after and had to be a gay teenager in the late 1950s/early 60s. I’m trying to slug through “Hoover’s War On Gays” by Douglas M. Charles. It’s a Very difficult read. My generation, just barely post Stonewall, had it pretty good all things considered. One of my high school teachers, Bill Ochse, actually brought a group of gay activists to his class to talk to his students, and the mob didn’t burn the school down.

I had him for a class but I wasn’t in that particular class that day. So I watched from a distance as they left his classroom, still talking to Bill and a few of the other kids. How I wished I could have sat in and listened to them. I’ve ached at the memory ever since. But at least I could know back in 1971 that there was such things as gay activists. I could at least know that I wasn’t alone, even if it felt like it.

I didn’t get my prom. It was 1971. Not even Woodward would have been ready for gay teens stepping out onto the dance floor back in 1971. Are you kidding? And even in a better world I probably wouldn’t have been able to take the guy I was crushing on to the prom. He was a catch, stunningly beautiful, smart, decent, lived in the nice neighborhood, and I was a weird kid from across the tracks, unhandsome, crooked teeth, unruly hair, living with a single divorced mother, preoccupied with his artwork and photography. Didn’t get my prom. Didn’t get a boyfriend either.

I’ll be 70 soon. I’ll die having walked from one end of an adult life to the other single. And the fact is there was more stacked against me than the treachery of a few I believed to be my friends (We’ve seen the guys you look at. People who look like that want people who look like that.). Back in 1971 even Mad Magazine thought our claim to having a common humanity with out neighbors was ridiculous (You shout that you are victimized by bigoted attacks. Forgive us if we’re more concerned with Indians and Blacks). The scale of what was taken from us so righteous people could build their stepping stones to heaven out of pieces of our hearts is nearly impossible to grasp. And the teenager I was stopped hoping long ago.

70. It isn’t quite the milestone I was thinking it would be. I really don’t want any more birthdays. But I need to get A Coming Out Story finished.

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 13th, 2023

Back When Guys Could Be Sexy And Beautiful And Not Worry About Being Queer Baited

It was an all too brief period of time in young American male fashion. But I look back upon it fondly, and reminisce about the life I once had, before the heart attack, before I found myself suddenly knocking at the door to 70 and realizing that dating and mating part of my life is all in the rear view mirror now, and I didn’t even get to partake because back then gay teenagers didn’t exist and gay men were all better off dead than in love.

I have this theory that the fashions and styles we find attractive as adults are what were in vogue when we were coming of age. We glom onto that period and all those first crushes and first heartbreaks, and forever after it’s what gets the heart beating.

The problem for me (artistically and…otherwise) is that while “retro” fashions seem to have made a comeback, it’s only among the ladies. Long hair low risers and cutoffs haven’t made much headway among males young and slender enough that, IMO, they could benefit from them. Okay…so I could benefit from them.

It’s a shame. So when I get an itch to do some sexy sketching I usually end up riffing on photos of pretty young ladies I see online or in magazine fashion ads. When you know the basic skeletal and muscular differences between the sexes it’s not hard to convert female to male if you really, really like what they’re wearing or how they’ve done their hair. This drawing I posting some months ago being a good example…

I actually sold a print of that one.

I have a folder in my NAS of pose material that maybe I’ll get to someday and make a drawing from. Stuff I’ve got from various online sites and Facebook pages. Like the one I just started following a few days ago of 70s memories.


That photo was labelled Teenagers hanging out on Van Nuys Blvd. Obviously from the styles and the cars it was taken in the very early 1970s, or maybe even the late 60s. The time of my sexual awakening and that first magical crush. I’m thinking it’s a night shot under very bright street lamps, otherwise why would the sky above that store in the background be so dark. The comments on it are mostly about how street racing at that location was a thing back in the day. Mostly.

I take one look at this photo and instantly the longhair leaning up against the foreground car (check out the mag wheels) gets my attention. Nice jeans, thinks I…okay…I can do something with that. No smirking, please…I didn’t realize at first…. Anyway, it definitely speaks to that time in my life. Those low risers. That long beautiful hair. The floppy sleave shirt. I don’t think many people nowadays get how wide belts were back then, and the huge belt buckles that went with them. You can’t see the feet, but I’m pretty sure those are bells.

So I immediately grab a copy of the image for my “poses” folder. And I’m already thinking about what I need to change around a tad to make her a cute long haired guy…

I’ll have to adjust her pelvis a tad…oh…wait…

Nope. Don’t have to adjust anything.

The pose was just enough to make it unclear which sex you were looking at. What clued me in was figuring out how to change the curve of the hips to the thighs and then realizing that work had already been done for me. I wish I had his jeans too. And the 20-something body I had once upon a time that fit into them.

And…a boyfriend back then.

I wish I had more beautiful guys like that in my world now. Even if, as I said, that part of my life is in the rear view mirror. It would still be nice to have some beauty in my life, even if it’s just to look at now and then. But American males don’t like those styles anymore because HEY ARE YOU SOME KINDA QUEER OR WHAT!? I’m not even all that pretty, and wasn’t back in the day, and I got cat-called lots just for wearing my hair long. I Still get those cat-calls. HEY HIPPY…ARE YOU A BOY OR A GIRL…HAW HAW HAW…

But what’s refreshing about the comments on that photo on that page is there wasn’t any of that. If you remember those days fondly enough to be following 70s memories pages, then you remember that was how guys dressed and wore their hair back then.

And it was all good. At least it was to coming of age gay teenager me.

So…anyway…if I do something with the figure in that photo I’ll post it here. Probably not use the shirt though.



by Bruce | Link | React!

August 5th, 2023


There is no growing up, I used to say, there is only growing. Then today I came across this comment I made in a Facebook post about technological change:

Something I’ve noticed: progress makes some people feel old and others always feeling young…

…because you’re always having to learn new sh*t. All this time I’ve been attributing that constant twenty-ish mindset I have to a state of arrested development and that’s not it. It isn’t that I never grew up, it’s that I never got tired of growing up.

Never get tired of growing up.

by Bruce | Link | React! (1)

July 25th, 2023

“Everyone Has The Wrong Impression Of Cupid…”

I snapped up a copy of The Sun and The Star the moment I saw the cover art and looked at the synopsis…

…because at 69 I am still starving for stories of gay love and romance, and even though these books are aimed primarily at younger readers, I can still read them and maybe the gay teenager I once was will finally have the stories he needed to grow on. Also, it’s good to support authors that give gay kids stories to dream on.

The books are part of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of young reader novels, and Nico and Will apparently start out as background characters who gained in popularity with the readers. They don’t start out as boyfriends, but by the time this book came out they had become a couple.

And I’ve been digging into the story arc of these two, and I see now that there is at least one book I need to read first, before I go onto this one. It’s the fourth book, The House of Hades. I think I should read this first, not only to get a better sense of the entire series and it’s characters, but also because there is a scene in it that, so it seems, really gets to the heart of the character Nico di Angelo, son of Hades, and his inner struggle. Nico, it seems, has had a very hard life, and the process of coming out to himself has only made it worse. It’s a scene where Nico has to confront the god Eros/Cupid to get an artifact they need.

“Nico, you can do this,” Jason said. “It might be embarrassing, but it’s for the scepter.” 

Nico didn’t look convinced. In fact he looked like he was going to be sick. But he squared his shoulders and nodded.

“You’re right. I -I’m not afraid of a love god.”

By this point in the series, Nico clearly has some sort of grudge against Percy. The thinking of the others is it might be because Nico has a crush on Percy’s girlfriend Annabeth. But it isn’t that. The crush he has is on Percy. Nico’s been dealing with it, and with what it tells him about himself, by withdrawing. 

Cupid taunts him mercilessly about his hiding himself from the others, and hiding from himself, over his crush on Percy and the fact of his sexual orientation. The god forces Nico to admit the crush he has on someone who could never love him back that way. There is fan art representing this scene, but in the book there’s a buildup to it that makes it even more powerful.

“Is this guy Love or Death”, Jason growled.

Ask your friends, Cupid said. Frank, Hazel, and Percy met my counterpart, Thanatos. We are not so different. Except Death is sometimes kinder.

This is not your Hallmark Cupid…

Poor Nico di Angelo. The god’s voice was tinged with disappointment. Do you know what you want, much less what I want? My beloved Psyche risked everything in the name of Love. It was the only way for her to atone for her lack of faith. And you – what have you risked in my name?

“I’ve been to Tartarus and back,” Nico snarled. “You don’t scare me.”

I scare you very, very much. Face me. Be honest.

Wow. Just…wow… 

If this invisible guy was Love, Jason was beginning to think Love was overrated. He liked Piper’s version better – considerate, kind, and beautiful. Aphrodite he could understand.  Cupid seemed more like a thug, an enforcer.

Lots of us have probably met that Cupid at one time or another. Gay men of my generation especially. If you haven’t, consider yourself very, very lucky.

by Bruce | Link | React!

July 1st, 2023

Winter (in) Summerland…The Dark Side

Facebook gives me memories. Today’s remind me that I was seeing trouble ahead just a couple years after I reconnected with him…


I remember this. We’d fallen into a pattern where I’d hang out for a bit after closing and he’d come over to my table and we’d chat for a bit. Some years later I worked up the courage to ask him why we couldn’t just hang out maybe on one of his days off and he told me straight up that wouldn’t happen because he’d made his allegiances and he had to stay inside his comfort zone. So those little after hours chats were all I ever had with him. And almost right away I began to see a darkness within that stunned me. In my hopelessly twitterpated state that was the last thing I expected to see.

It really shook me…

All those years after high school I’d put him up on a pedestal in my memories, and then thirty years later, with that much more life under my belt, I saw the person. And I saw what the world had done to him. And it wasn’t as if I hadn’t seen that before. By that time I’d already been years working with others in my tribe fighting against ex-gay therapy cults like Love In Action and Exodus and I’d listened to the stories of people who’d been put through all that firsthand. It made me angry and it made me determined, but it was easy for me to keep the hurt tucked safely in a place far away from my own personal life. I had escaped all that through luck and my innate stubbornness. But I hadn’t really. I glimpsed it that day and it stunned me and there it was, tapping me on the shoulder, letting me know that none of us escaped being damaged by that torrent of hate we all had to live under. There I was, out and proud and unashamed and willing to take the hits I had to take to live an honest life. And in that moment I saw how much, really, all that mattered. It didn’t. If the world can’t cut us directly, it’ll cut the ones we love and that does the job equally well. None of us escaped it. Not a one.

After high school he vanished from my life and I went on to have a few major crushes, and fell deeply in love two more times. Once disastrously to a straight guy and once more to a gay who mostly just needed someone to fuss over him for a while. I was serious and he was casual and he told me we were just friends with benefits, and that was the end of my quest for love and joy. And the only one among all these who wasn’t damaged in some way by the climate of hate was the straight guy.

I try so hard not to hate the world back. I see all the expressions of love and support during Pride month this year and it helps a lot. I was basking in it a few weeks ago in Walt Disney World, and its surrounding communities. It made me feel fully human and recognised, in a way I just couldn’t when I was a teenager. 

But then I remember what happened… 

by Bruce | Link | React!

May 16th, 2023


The last time I felt like pouring my heart out on Facebook, when I was feeling like this, I got told basically to shut up. And back when I vented/brain dumped here on this life blog after my high school crush spit in my face I probably lost a few readers. I know a really nice guy who used to give me pingbacks stopped doing that then. Oh well. I reckon I’ll keep wearing my heart on my blog, if not Facebook, because otherwise I’ll just…well…nobody wants to hear that.

The Royal Farms on The Avenue plays what they assume is music to keep the local drug dealers and their customers from loitering. I object to classical music being used in this way, since it’s a favorite musical form, and I wouldn’t mind having it piped all along The Avenue. But apparently it works. Lately though, they’ve begun playing “easy listening” tunes.

My head is a mess…I probably won’t go to Howard’s memorial after all because I can barely motivate myself to leave the house to get the daily steps in my cardiologist wants. At the moment, I just don’t care. But on the theory that a good walk has always been good for my head, I go out. I try to stay out of my favorite bars when it’s like this because even my fondest cocktails would only drag my body down (it’s getting worse the older I get) and do nothing for my head.

So I walk. And walking past Royal Farms I hear this…

The summer wind came blowin’ in
From across the sea
It lingered there so warm and fair
To walk with me…

…and I knew I had it in my iTunes library because I’d bought when I heard it on Pandora long long ago in a gloom far far away. So I called it up and walked home with it playing.

And I had a memory flash of that really embarrassing gay bar scene in Advise and Consent. Vito Russo described it thusly:

The screen’s first official gay bar, overloaded to create the desired effect of otherworldliness in a previously hidden subculture, is nevertheless quite tame compared to the more flamboyant versions of later films. As Anderson enters the dimly lit bar, he is confronted by three glaring decidedly “arch” men, one of whom holds a cigarette grandly aloft. He walks past the three men, down a narrow hallway and into a room in which colored spotlights punctuate the darkness, revealing scenes of men sitting together ay candlelit tables. The music coming from the juke box, features the voice of Frank Sinatra.

Love alone…
I have sung a loser’s song alone.
Let me hear a voice
A secret voice
A voice that will say
Come to me
And be what I need you to be…

Anderson, visibly shaken, backs away and runs for the door…

Ever since I read The Celluloid Closet and even more later when I worked myself up to watching that movie, I’ve always felt it a cheap ready made Hollywood stereotype that gay bars had to have a lot of “arch” men with cigarettes held grandly aloft listening to Frank Sinatra. I figured “arch cigarette smoker” was a job listing for extras. “Must know how to hold a cigarette like a homosexual.” I had a mental image of studio property managers getting a script that required a gay bar scene, dragging out of the warehouse a juke box with several dozen copies of that same single Sinatra song listed in the menu. The sound men would have a copy in their library next to The Wilhelm scream.

Wait…don’t go…maybe the juke box has some Village People too!

And there I was, at night, in Baltimore, miserable, alone walking home listening to Sinatra. I’m the lonely old gay troll I swore I’d never become. All that was missing was the cigarette. But I was never able to get one of those into my lungs. Maybe all I need is to learn how to hold one. Archly.

And guess who sighs his lullabies
Through nights that never end…

by Bruce | Link | React!

May 13th, 2023

I Am Actually Pretty Good At This Stuff. . .

[NOTE: For some reason I never published this one and it sat in my drafts folder until now. I might have put it up on my Facebook page, but given the formatting here I don’t think so. Anyway…it’s worth putting out here. I am actually pretty good at this stuff…but I’m a year retired now and I want to move on…]

I’m going through a bunch of old documentation in preparation for retiring in a couple months. My project manager quite reasonably wants me to basically do a brain dump and put it all out where they can access it after I’m gone. It’s bringing back a lot of very happy memories. And also not quite so happy ones. I created a bunch of custom software for them that I am still intensely proud of, that just got trashcanned, in some instances even before I could release it for general use.

That happens in this trade. One of my contract jobs before coming to Space Telescope had me working on an interactive tutorial for Microsoft Office products, that had already been superseded by newer versions. When I came onboard I wondered how long the contract was going to last, given that we were working on a product for teaching users how to use a version of Office that was already obsolete. And sure enough, about a week later the project was cancelled. I felt really bad for the employees of the business that had been working on it for months before I was brought in. All that work…all that time out of their lives…just out the window.

I’ve had several moments of that working at Space Telescope. It happens and I was told not to worry. Some way more experienced developers than I had it happen to them multiple times. The environment changes out from under the work you’re doing and you have to throw a bunch of stuff away and start over. At least in this business you can often reuse some of the old code. But nonetheless, it still makes you doubt yourself. I wasn’t good enough…

As it happens, Facebook this morning showed me the following memory…a post I put up while going through my old DayTimer pages (I used to use DayTimer’s 24 hour pages as a work diary) about something that happened to me from back before I came to the Institute. Out of everything that ever happened to me while plying this trade, this one jobsite holds for me both the best of my times, and the absolute worst. I have never hated working for a company, and its managers, more than I hated everything about working there. Yet it proved to me just how good I am at doing this. I solved a problem that none of them could figure out, and I did it with only paper print outs of the code.

I should have posted this here too, instead of only on Facebook. But I’ll do it now. Because I need to remember this going forward. I am actually pretty good at this stuff…

Condensing the last of my Daytimer pages…I’m glancing over the entries for what was one of the worst contracts I had…the two weeks I spent at a big insurance company not far from where I live. The story I got was they’d just undergone some massive layoffs and the environment there was bitter, resentful and hostile toward contractors. After a week of enduring loud, angry shouting matches among the managers there I was telling my agency to get me the hell out of there.

In the two weeks I was there they never got my network account properly set up. For a few days after clearing it with the manager there, I brought my personal laptop in to get some work done, but then one of their lobby guards tried to confiscate it and I pitched a fit that got one of the directors called down and I was allowed to take my laptop home and from that time on I did my work with paper printouts of the code I was supposed to be debugging. I am proud to this day that I was able to pin down several reasons why their software was blowing up using just those paper printouts.

Here’s some of my Daytimer notes from the battlefield…

– Resolved GPF problem on external program module. Share must be running or program will GPF when initialized.

– When recommended that install be changed + test for presence of share be coded into the program, suggestion by **** that I just wanted to spend their money on useless trivia.

– Hostile toward suggestion that GPF condition be trapped for and handled gracefully. “We could be dealing with millions of little problems like this” was what I was told. (Better I guess to let the program blow up and make the user restart it than put error trapping where your lazy programmers couldn’t be bothered..)

– I can run the system but not in debug mode and I can’t access files I need do my work. When asked about this I was told it was my problem and if I can’t fix it myself then why are they paying me to be here. So I dig a little deeper and find out my network account is USER not DEVELOPER which explains why I don’t have privs on those files. When pointed this out I got an angry stare and was told they would look into it when they have time.

– Told my workstation is user configured and not to be reconfigured because it is against LAN policy to reconfigure user workstations, and I just have to do the best I can. Still using ****’s (this was another developer from the same agency I was working for, who’d been there longer) from workstation as I can’t log in on mine. Cannot log in to developer area on any workstation though, not just mine.

One afternoon during this time I met a neighbor of mine at the apartment complex I lived in then, who worked for a different agency as we were both getting mail from our mailboxes. I asked him what he was working on and he asked the same of me and when I told him first words out of his mouth were, “Ohhh… Rough Place.” Apparently everyone already knew it was a notoriously bad place to be a contractor but me.

And from the comments I replied to, was this from me…  

Yeah. Some of my favorite programming code horror stories come from this place. I was called in to find out why their reporting system kept blue screening their workstations. It was written by some staff programmers who allegedly had their BS in CompSci but the code I saw was so full of problems I don’t think a half-wit would have made that it made me wonder. They weren’t fixing it themselves because they were leaving the company for allegedly better paying jobs elsewhere. At least that was their story. I suspect they were just getting the hell out of Dodge before it dawned on anybody how incompetent they were.

I tracked down the blue screen of death problem to the fact that these idiots used a bunch of global variables (named…I Am Not Kidding, GlobalDummyInteger1, GlobalDummyInteger2, GlobalDummyInteger3…and so on…) and were storing handles to windows in them at the same time they were using them to store things like the result of a button press or a for-next loop counter. But to fix it would have required a lot of rewriting of the code base and they were already saying to my face that I just wanted them to trap for errors whenever they tried to access a share to spend their money.

I have no idea what eventually became of that system but it just needed a complete rewrite to be stable and I suspect they eventually contracted out of house for a new one but who knows…they may still be telling their users to just reboot their machines whenever they blue screen.

by Bruce | Link | React!

April 30th, 2023

What A Lovely November Day!

…being that it’s the last of April. Drizzly, chilly, miserable. Must be springtime in Maryland. A perfect day for staying inside and catching up on my filing. I have this really bad habit of just dumping mail that isn’t urgent into a box and leaving it there, sometimes for months. It can really pile up because I keep resisting the calls to just “go paperless”.

I practically already have. I have a list of bills I just routinely pay online and that is when I check over the transactions and make sure everything is okay. I have credit monitoring that alerts me instantly if someone tries to open an account in my name. My banks and cards tell me about every transaction made in real time. So the paper bills tend to get put off for filing later. Occasionally I get nagged to just switch to “paperless” billing (we used to call it email back in the day…) but I am old and like my paper bills for some reason I can’t even now explain. Maybe it’s that filing things makes me feel like I’m adulting.

The Social Security and medical statements I look at immediately, and also the retirement account statements. But then they also go into the box for filing later. So do all the other odds and ends including the junk, because I can’t always just toss the junk mail away. Some of it needs shredding.

Which is why my shredder gets a lot of work when I get around to sorting and filing everything in the box. This is when I notice how persistent some junk mailers are. No my house is not for sale, I don’t care how many times you ask. No I am not switching energy providers. No I am not buying a car warranty. No I do not want your Medicare supplemental coverage. No I am not going to your retirement planning seminar and I don’t care how free the food is. It’s impressive how many of these same exact mailers come, one after the other, over and over and over. What…did you think I missed the first one?

by Bruce | Link | React!

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 | React!

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 | React!

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 | React!

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 | React!

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 | React!

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 | React!

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