Today, show yourself some love.
Honestly don’t know if I could say that…
It has been a year since I last saw my most trusted confidant. Shortly after our last meeting she had a relapse of congestive heart failure, a nasty side effect of the chemo she endured for almost a year. We celebrated when she beat the cancer, but yo-yo’d through bittersweet emotions each time her cardiovascular system started to give out. Carole passed away almost a month after I last saw her.
The day I found out about her passing I felt numb, like someone had robbed me of the ability to feel, or grieve. All I could do was muster a crooked smile and mutter something about being in a better place. For a moment I thought I would simply skip the pain and the tears, and go directly to happy thoughts. I knew she was sick, and had already come to terms with the impending loss, so maybe I had already let go. I missed her so much, and kept expecting to get an email or phone call from her. My mind still hadn’t processed the fact that she was gone. A few days later the dam burst while I was at work. Out of nowhere my brain let go of the denial, and my heart broke.
I was sitting at my desk working my way through a stack of papers when my heart got the message from my brain. I broke down, sobbing loudly, as staff and vendors walked by with quizzical looks on their faces. I couldn’t turn it off, it just kept coming, like colossal waves battering Noah’s Ark. Fighting it just made it worse, so I shut my door, hid in a corner, and gave in to the grief.
She was one of the most dedicated people I knew, with a good soul. Why did SHE have to go, why didn’t God take the drunk, violent, homophobic, asshole neighbor of ours!? He’s intentionally malicious, and goes out of his way to stir up trouble. Why wasn’t he the one to suffer the agony of cancer? My anger made the tears feel like boiling water when they hit my cheeks.
On the day of her funeral I dressed in my best suit, choosing a purple dress shirt as a silent tribute to Carole’s spirit (and her favorite color). I felt strong, and happy again, thinking I might even make it through the service without falling apart. That all changed when they put her pictures and trademark purple scarf on display. I’m not sure how much Kleenex I used that morning, but I’m certain a couple acres of trees had to come down to replace the stockpile I consumed. At the very end of the service, they invited the mourners to dance along as they played “Dancing Queen”. I smiled and moved very awkwardly as tears streaked down my face. Carole had a carefree spirit, and loved to dance. I smiled the whole way home, thinking "leave it to Carole to say her last goodbyes by inviting her mourners to dance their way out of the church."
I miss her so much, she always found a way to impart knowledge, and make me laugh when I felt like giving the whole world the finger. The great memories absolutely outweigh the not-so-great. Despite all of the sore emotions that came with her passing I have no regrets. Life without regrets is something she used to remind me about when I was being a sourpuss. Knowing Carole she is probably dancing on her cloud with a Cheshire grin, saying “YES!!!! He got it!!”
Remember our heroes today.
12 years ago I was just walking out the front door when the first tower started to fall. By the time I got to work the second one had come down as well. I will never forget the profound sense of loss, and indescribable shock I felt that day.
This morning I proudly donned what has become my traditional Patriot Day suit. So far three people have asked me why I am dressed the way I am, or why I have a flag on my lapel, one even joked that I was running for office, while another said “Labor day is already over, buddy.” Sadly each of them responded “Oh, is that (September 11th) today?” I did not lose anyone that tragic day, no friends, relatives, or cohorts, but I still feel a monumental sense of loss each time I mark this date. Never forget.
“What I want you to take away from my life story is just how important it is to defend your freedom, at all costs. Experience has shown me that if you lose your freedom, you are condemned to fail.”
― Leon Schgrin, on the Jewish Holocaust
It’s been a while since I wrote anything. For some reason the breakthrough I had with my mom seemed to stall my creative juices. A major part of my anger, and resentment, faded into a sense of accomplishment. I had no anger, and therefore nothing to rant and rave about. My blog became a collection of memes and single paragraph observations.
A few weeks ago I was going through my email and came across the usual plethora from my dad. His collection of right wing rants, and political cartoons professing extremism filled my mailbox. I shook my head and mumbled “how did I, a gay, centrist, empathic man come from such bigotry?” I scrolled through the propaganda hoping to find something light hearted. A funny YouTube clip perhaps, or one of his flatulence jokes, instead I found an article about limp wrist gay men taking over the institution of marriage. I couldn’t believe it, he sent me a Pat Robertson diatribe. It was like receiving religious right wing diarrhea by email. I decided to delete the lot of his messages, while choking it up to the onset of dementia.
Two days later I decided to call home and speak with my dad. I usually talk to my dad by proxy, my mom relays information between the two of us, which keeps things civil. Talking with my dad directly is trying to put several 10,000 piece puzzles together at the same time. His dementia leads him to talk in circles, and his hearing rivals that of Helen Keller, especially when he takes his hearing aides off. Add a significant helping of extremist thought, bigotry, and racism, and you have yourself the ingredients for the perfect storm. I’m still amazed that he can spout off racial slurs and epithets with such clarity, but he can’t remember that he told me the same story about his dog going swimming three times in a twenty minute time span.
Eventually he got around to talking about his collection of political truths. While he rambled on about the evils of anyone not in alignment with him, I rolled my eyes and pretended to off myself with a finger gun in the mouth. About halfway through his rant he started talking about gays being allowed to marry, and the silly queers that moved in down the road from them. I decided to remind him that I was still gay, and was nothing like his stereotypical gay man with a purse and Chihuahua. Instead of realizing he had stepped into foul territory he simply remarked that he was glad “I was a man, and not a feminine lisp ridden sissy boy.” I was fuming, and wanted to strike back, and engage him in full-on warfare. Years of therapy have taught me not to let him hook me. Instead I suddenly feigned surprise at the time of day, and told my him I had to finish up in yard before the sun went down.
I quickly wrapped up the call, and sat down on the couch to shake off the sensation of being covered in shit. It’s sort of fitting that my dad is silently slipping into his own private hell.
Fast forward to my conversation with my mom, a week later. I told her how dad was stuck in the infinite loop again, telling me the same thing over and over again. Thanking the water was still safe I shared my phone call and email experience with her, making no attempt to mask my disgust with dad’s Pat Robertson hate mail. A pregnant silence filled the space between us, quickly giving birth to an awkward silence. “Well, you dad is just going off of the sermon we heard in church the other day. It said homosexuality is clearly a sin, because you have soiled the relationship between you and God.” The awkward silence made itself comfortable again. “I see,” I told her flatly. “I guess I just have a much simpler view of faith, it’s the same message in just about any ‘religion’. Pick just about any faith, from any historical period. What’s it say? Our God loves us, do good to you fellow man, because no man is above another, and no man is truly capable of judgement. Material things are just that. He who dies with the most toys still dies. Explain to me how homosexuals are the lone abomination?!” I could hear hear exhale with quiet impatience, and realized I had lost her again. Just as quickly as I had broken through, the walls had been rebuilt using heavy stone. My connection was gone. The phone call quickly shifted to neutral conversation, before ending with half hearted promises to talk to each other soon. I didn’t even tell her I loved her, I just politely ended the call.
That phone call took place almost a month ago, and I have only attempted to call them twice in the time, choosing not to leave a message when their ancient answering machine clicked on. My parents made no effort to call.
I’m 36, accomplished, and living what most folks consider the American Dream. That means diddly squat shit when it comes to my security and confidence. My ingrained need to obtain people’s acceptance and approval haunts me, even though life has repeatedly told me to stop trying. My parents will never accept me, they will only love me because I am a fruit of their loins. But I will keep trying, no matter how badly it hurts, because that voice in my head says “try again, maybe this time will be different.” Or maybe this is the time I finally learned my lesson. After all, I’m in no particular rush to call them. Time will tell.
I always thought they would come around one day, after seeing who I really am when they aren’t around. That’s not a wish, or a dream. That’s crazy making.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein
Mr. All American Boy, in the flesh, as it were.
Damn, so many amazing things to love about Steve Grand!
We used to enjoy a youthful playfulness
We used to count the minutes until we saw each other again
We used to write love notes
We used to be ourselves
We used to feel un-judged
We used to feel confident
We used to show emotion
We used to demonstrate genuine empathy
We used to have dreams
We used to be truthful
We used to be faithful
We used to trust each other
We used to be unexposed
We used to feel safe
We used to confide
We used to speak our minds
We used to argue without destroying every part of us
We used to honestly tell people we never put our hands on each other
We used to have room for guests
We used to enjoy sexual freedom
We used to see his mom on occasion instead of every moment of every day
We used to swear that family would not move in
We used to refrain from labeling our mothers as cunts, whores, and bitches
We used to swear she would be moving into her own apartment
We used to have ‘non-stick’ cookware
We used to have intimate holidays
We used to have time alone in the house
We used to enjoy a very active sex life
We used to enjoy eroticism without shame
We used to ‘do it’ several times a day\week
We used to enjoy intimacy without worrying about judgements
We used to dream about marriage
We used to be passionate
We used to go about our days without checking GPS to see where he really was
We used to enjoy spoiling each other, instead of doing so to heal wounds
We used to appreciate the special aspects of each other
Breaking The Fourth Wall turned 1 today!
Pike Place - Seattle, Washington. 5:00AM
One of my favorite spots in the city. I was very close to moving to Seattle last year. Amazing city.
Here’s the SNL skit I mentioned in my last post.
I’m sure all of you know about the Asiana airplane that crashed in San Francisco last week. Being that SFO is in my neighborhood, the local news has been totally obsessed with reporting every tiny detail of the incident.
Today the local Fox affiliate reported they had obtained the names of the pilots on the jet, which were both read aloud by the anchor, and put on screen. It’s very reminiscent of a Saturday Night Live sketch where Robert DeNiro read the names of terrorists (Hous Bin Farteen for example).
I think it’s safe to say someone at the station will be in the unemployment line tomorrow.
Wow…time to invest in Viagra
A creative group of metal workers from the village of Deulina, near the city of Ryazan in Russia, created this awesome one-of-a-kind Steampunk locomotive barbecue pit. Weighing 4 tons, this functional work of art was skillfully forged from scrap automobile, motorcycle, and train parts.
"…the locomotive has three work bays – two 60-cm-long grilling pits in the main body and a trailer that acts as a stove. The first compartment is designed for barbecuing kebabs and can accommodate up to twenty skewers, while the second one is equipped with a rotating spit for roasting chicken and large pieces of meat. Some of the locomotive parts are actually functional, like the large brass wheel in the cabin that rotates the spit."
"The inside of the locomotive furnace is lined with fireclay bricks and while barbecue charcoal can be used as “fuel”, the Wizards of Deulina (as its creators are referred to in the Russian article) recommend birch or oak logs for extra flavor. Equipped with three smokestacks, the locomotive grill doubles as a great smokehouse.”
Two of my favorite things: Cooking and Trains!