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Apr. 18th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- a patchwork heart

A few weeks ago, my mom had a heart attack. Mom was having chest pains, but decided to go to church first, then go to the hospital. While they were putting the electrodes on her, she coded. Fifteen minutes later, she coded again. She was revived both times. They out stents in and now, she's home, recuperating now, and things are going fine, but it was not fun for a few days there.

Of course, my family being the people we are, reacted in our own special ways.

When I got the phone call, my first reaction was, "Mom can't die yet... I only have, like, three days' worth of clean clothes right now."

Not "Should I look up flights home?", not "Do you need me to call anyone"... nope.

I mean, as thoughts in an emergency go, "Do I have enough clean clothes to deal with it?" is a pretty good one. It's just not what I would have figured my initial reaction to be.

After the stents were put in and everything calmed down, then we kicked into high gear.

Nephew: I think you just did this for attention.
Mom: I'm going to hurt you.
Nephew: Oh, please, you just got out of the hospital.
Mom: Just stay where you are. I'll get there eventually.

Then, one of my sisters pointed out that mom is such a control freak that she even planned her heart attack. It couldn't happen until after she went to church, and then, she made sure she was in the Emergency Room when it happened.

I have to agree, that is some advanced level planning.

Mom threatened to hurt her, too.

When I told mom that I knew she getting better because she was threatening us again, she laughed.

So, this is my family, laughing our way through life whenever possible.

Apr. 10th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Therapy

A tale of family and friendsCollapse )

Mar. 19th, 2017

dino head

A tale from grad school for lj idol

It was January, and I was in grad school. Grad students are always short on funds, so I had just started a new job: tutoring writing in the undergraduate residence halls.

The day I started tutoring, we had a snow/ice storm. The sidewalks were slick and the streets, a mess. I made it to all my classes, though I slipped and slid quite a bit, and, then, waddled over to the residence hall to start tutoring.

Along the way, I slipped twice, because no one at the university thought to treat the sidewalks for the entire day. Apparently, salt was for food, and for food only.

I got to the dorm, only to discover that I was scheduled to tutor at a dorm all the way across campus. Fortunately, there was bus service. Unfortunately the streets were still a mess.

So, the bus almost skidded through the stop sign, and when it did stop, I rushed out to it. I floundered on the ice flow like a wounded walrus, almost slipping under the bus, except that I slammed shoulder-first into the side of the bus. It was painful, but better than ending up on my butt.

Anyway, I staggered onto the bus, which immediately turned a corner, throwing me onto the lap of an unsuspecting fellow passenger. I apologized profusely and sat down elsewhere.

Because the streets were still untreated and and an icy mess, the bus moved slowly (well, after taking that one corner), making me late.

I got off the bus, and waddled like a penguin, only slower, to the dorm. I asked the desk attendant where the dorm library (where I'd be tutoring) was, and he said to follow the signs in the tunnels.

After being out in the cold, I found the tunnels almost unbearably warm. I was sweating like a pig by the time I got to the library, which was so cold, I ended up putting my scarf on.

I did not understand the extremes. There was a happy medium to be had.

No one came for tutoring that day.* So, I did some homework. All that trouble for nothing.

On my way home, someone had FINALLY been out cleaning up the sidewalks. Getting home was not nearly the trial that getting to the dorm was.

My university did not handle winter storms well.

*The students in this dorm did not come for tutoring nearly as much as the students in the other dorms where I tutored. Don't know why.

Mar. 2nd, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol: Camping

Back in the day, my great-grandfather found an old toilet seat, which he decided to bring home, for reasons that no one has ever adequately explained.*

Well, once he took his find home, he looked at it, and decided he needed to refinish it. In the basement, he removed the finish with a blow torch. That neither he nor the house caught fire is perhaps a miracle.

Anyway, he then repainted the toilet seat, which he offered to his five daughters, all of whom refused it.

So, the toilet seat, unused and unloved, just stayed in the basement.

About a year or so later, my Aunt Karen, who was a Girl Scout, was about to go camping with her troop.

Now, understand, no one is my family is particularly outdoorsy. I think my mom sums it up best when she says, "Why would I go camping? I can eat, shit, and clean up at home, where I have electricity, running water, and climate control."**

Aunt Karen had been camping with the Girl Scouts before and had seen the outhouses that everyone had to use: inside were just boards with holes in them. She was not looking forward to this.***

Then, she remembered the orphan toilet seat in the basement, so she packed it in with her stuff.

She was easily the most popular girl at the camp that weekend: everyone asked to borrow the toilet seat.

Aunt Karen was a girl scout for another few years: she always remembered to bring the toilet seat with her.
*Some family members say that it was left behind when someone redecorated, others say he fished it out of the garbage somewhere. Either way, I'm pretty sure copious amounts of alcohol were involved in the decision making process.
**The last time I went camping, my then-boyfriend (who convinced me to go -- you do stupid things when the sex is good) woke me up to see the sunrise. I looked at him and said, "I've seen plenty of sunrises, I'd rather sleep."
***This attitude about outhouses is a multi-generational thing in my family. When my nephew was a boy scout, he went camping with them, saw the facilities and just refused to use them (for doing #2, anyway). When he came home, he went straight to the bathroom.

Feb. 21st, 2017

An odd trolley problem: for LJ Idol

This week's topic is "Trolley Problem."

Being a gay man of a certain age, I immediately thought of Judy Garland singing The Trolley Song when I read that.

And the song got stuck in my head all day on Friday, which was a problem because I was trying to accomplish things at work.

For example:

Me (to myself): Okay, I need to proofread this...
Me (to myself): Come on! It's a grant propos--
Me: But this has to get d...
Me: I hate you so much right now.

The song just kept running through my head on an endless loop. It was so frustrating. It got worse when I received a phone call from purchasing.

Me: Hello!
Purchasing Person: We have questions about the t-shirts.
Me: I thought we worked out the budget issues.
PP: We did, but...
Me: Could you repeat that?
PP: Did you get...
PP: And we...
Me (trying to fake it): I though I gave you all the documentation...
PP (a little annoyed, and at the same time as below): blahblahblah artwork blahblahblah
Me: Wait. you need the artwork? Why?
PP: (sounds like Miss Othmar from the Charlie Brown cartoons)
Me (still trying to fake it): I don't have the artwork, but I'll get it and send it to you.
PP: (I'm sure he said something here.)
Me: Do me a favor. Could you e-mail me your concerns, so I can pass them on to my boss?
PP: Sure.

At this point, I put my headphones on and hit shuffle, in an attempt to drive The Trolley Song out of my head with other music.

Sadly, this did not work. It just created some awfully strange mashups.

For instance, Head like a Hole by Nine Inch Nails and The Trolley Song, which went like this:


That was just confusing.

This was no better:

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! Feeling small..

(Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge over Troubled Water)

Judy Garland completely overpowered Simon and/or Garfunkel and it made even less sense than the first mash-up.

Then, Queen's song, Killer Queen came on:


Oddly, this mashup worked, though it still did not drive the song out of my brain.

So, I just gave up, and spent the rest of the day with that damned Trolley Song going through my head.
Tags: ,

Feb. 10th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol: No Comment

One day, I was meeting a few friends and fellow grad students at a coffee shop to go over notes for a particularly difficult class.

Danielle, one of the members of our little study group, walked over with her coffee just as I was getting out my notes. She had this stricken look on her face, and I could tell we were not going to get much studying done.

Classmate: Danielle, what's wrong?
Danielle: Steve (her fiancé) cheated on me.
Everyone at the table: That's awful.
Danielle: I just don't know what to do.
Clasmate2: Well, we're here for you.

--- The whole "let's console Danielle" thing continued for a few minutes. I was silent.

Danielle (turning to me): Don't you have anything to say?
Me: Nope. Everyone else said it better than I could.
Danielle: I can see that you want to say something.
Me: You've known me for two years. I always want to say something. But I'm not going to.
Danielle: Everyone else is being so supportive...
Me: Do not push. You do not want me saying anything right now.
Danielle (getting more upset): I just want you to be honest.
Me: Okay. Here goes. This is the third? fourth? time that he's cheated on you. I'm not sure you get to be surprised about it anymore.
Danielle: I...
Me: You know he's going to. He's made that abundantly clear. Why are you still with him?
Danielle: He said it was an accident.
Me: AN ACCIDENT? Did he trip and fall into her vagina? I admit that I'm gay and, therefore, don't know, but I'm pretty sure that that isn't how straight people have sex.
Danielle: We're in love!
Me: With each other? Because I'm not convinced. I don't think he has any respect for you.
Danielle: I...
Me: And I'm not sure what you get out of this relationship. Is being alone that scary?
Danielle: I... you... (she picked up her things and walked away)
Classmate: That was... unpleasant.
Me: (shrugging) I told her not to push.

Danielle and I made up about a week later. She also forgave Steve, who cheated on her again a few months later. She knew better than to ask me how I felt about it.

She eventually went to Belgium (I think) in one of the university's graduate exchange programs, and we completely lost touch.

Jan. 31st, 2017

wtf, eyes

For LJ Idol -- Where I'm from

I'm from what was a small mill town in Western Pennsylvania. Seriously, when I was a kid, there was a steel mill about six blocks away from my house.

The mill is long gone now, but that's not what this is about.

I was in grad school, talking with a friend, when the subject of small town living came up.

Friend: I want to work in college town.
Me: I guess. I kind of prefer to work in a city, though.
Fr: I just like small town life... don't you?
Me: Not really. I got enough of that growing up...
Fr: I mean, everyone knowing everyone else...
Me: And always being all up in your business...
Fr: Neighbors being nice to one another...
Me: To their faces, anyway...
Fr: the calmness of your surroundings...
Me: The stifling feeling of nothing happening...
Fr: Everyone feeling like a real community...
Me: As long as you fit in...
Fr: And nothing out of the ordinary happens...
Me: No, no. You just aren't looking. Take my town for instance.
Fr: Okay.
Me: Kids in my town would either party at the local garbage dump or out in the abandoned train cars by the old steel mill.
Fr: Did you ever do this?
Me: No. I didn't get along with most of the neighbor kids, and, honestly, A DUMP? I have standards.
Fr: Still... that's not so bad.
Me: I'm not done. Frequently, they would start fires, to keep warm.
Fr: Still..
Me: The fire department wouldn't go out to investigate, at least partially because some of the firemen were running a prostitution ring out of the firehouse.
Fr: Come on!
Me: But it was just young women... if your taste ran to guys, well, THEY in the old union workers' building about two blocks away.
Fr: ... I...
Me: It has been my experience that just about everything that happens in the big, bad city happens in small towns. It's just that no one talks about it in small towns, so everyone can pretend.
Fr: I still think that small towns are better.
Me: That's cool. Just leave me out.

My friend did end up getting a job at a college in the Midwest somewhere, and, as for me, I ended up in THE big, bad American city, NYC.

Jan. 23rd, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Heel Turn

As those who read my blog regularly know, I am gay. My family knows, but we don't discuss it, because it would bring shame on them or something...

Well, back when Obergefell v. Hodges went before the Supreme Court, the more liberal members of my family would discuss it with me, but the more conservative members would not.

Except one.

My brother who still firmly believes that all LGBT people are mentally ill.

After he had posted some ugly stuff on Facebook, which I called hom out for and then blocked him over, my brother called me.

Brother: It's obvious that (tone of voice as if say something disgusting) gays and lesbians shouldn't get married.
Me: What? How so?
Bro: Well, the church...
Me: The church has nothing to do with this. Lots of people get married without any religious service.
Bro: Yes... but... marriage is a religious matter. Period.
Me: Then why can judges marry people?
Bro: Look... marriage is only about reproduction.
Me: So, by your argument, married couples should be FORCED to reproduce. How many years should they have?
Bro: No...
Me: So that after, say, five years, they should be forced to divorce? And what of infertile people... or post-menopausal women?
Bro: But they're straight couples, so the potenital is always there...
Me: And plenty of gay couple have kids...
Bro: They shouldn't.
Me: Why not? Gay folks will do a better job than many of straight people I know.
Bro: Look, marriage is for reproduction. Anyone who thinks otherwise is stupid.
Me: (dangerously) So... I'm stupid.
Bro: Yes.
Me: What does that make you?
Bro: Excuse me?
Me: I am fluent in three languages and can read another six. I am capable of intelligently discussing anything from politics to many of the sciences. YOU peaked in high school and can't successfully hold down a job.
Bro: Listen to me...
Me: No, you listen, I am done.

And then I hung up. We did not talk for about two years or so.I just turned and walked away(metaphorically speaking). I was fine with this, though my mom and my sisters were not.

That my sisters tried to interfered bothered me. They had stopped speaking to our brother regularly years ago, because they would get into fights with him. But I was supposed to maintain contact.

We did eventually start talking to one another when I was briefly hospitalized. He called me... but he never apologized, and I'm not about to, either. We now talk very occasionally.

Am I thrilled about it? No. But I'm sure we'll piss one another off soon, and then turn and walk away again.

Jan. 5th, 2017

dino head

For LJ Idol -- Finding closure at a pub

Longer ago than I care to admit, one (let's call her "Joanie") of my friends was sleeping with her best friend's fiancé (let's use "Carla" and "Matt").

This came to light after the wedding, and a tremendous amount of drama ensued.

Before this all happened, a bunch of us (between fifteen and twenty, depending on the week) would go to a local Irish pub on Thursdays, because they had Irish musicians in every week.

After the cheating news broke (which is another painfully stupid story), the married couple stopped going for a few months. I'm not sure if they went another night, or what.

Anyway, one night, they decided that they were going to the pub, because the wife "needed closure".*

I immediately knew that this was a Very Bad Idea. Wildly dysfunctional people, Irish music, alcohol, and feelings of betrayal are not the flavors that one typically uses to make a Serenity Stew.

While most folks went to the pub, to enjoy the music/witness the carnage, I decided to stay home. I knew that I would have to deal with the trauma afterward, so I just made a lunch date with Joanie for the next day.

Well, the scene at the pub was a shitshow. It started with cold stares, and angrily-mumbled comments, but, by the end of the first set of Irish music AND lots of alcohol, the wife and Joanie started screaming at one another, and Carla slapped Joanie.

So, Joanie and I had a lot to talk about the next day.

Joanie: ... and then she slapped me.
Me: *sigh* I tried to tell them that this was a bad idea...
Joanie: And I saw how Matt was flirting with Rowan**. If he's sleeping with her...
Me: I don't think he is...
Joanie: Well, if he is, after all the Hell I've been through over him... I'd just probably go crazy and kill them both. Then, I'd go to jail and no one would ever see me again.
Me: (thinking to myself): I know I should say something supportive here, but I don't know what...
Me: (out loud): I wouldn't worry about it. If anyone can cop a plea of diminished capacity right now, it's you.***
Joanie: (stricken look)...
Me: (Realizing what I said): I mean that in the best possible way.

Lunch was very uncomfortable after that.

Joanie is now married with a child of her own. Matt and Carla are still together with two children. I know this from mutual friends, because I no longer speak to any of them.
*Honestly, in cases like this, people don't normally want closure. They want the last word, which is a very different thing.
**They weren't flirting. At the time, they (and their partners) were just spending a lot of time together.
*** Honestly, I was trying to be helpful. There are reasons why friends have told me that "No one turns to (me) for comfort."

Dec. 31st, 2016

dino head

A grave situation-- for LJ Idol

Tales of dysfunction and why I don't forgive.Collapse )

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