Friday, December 25, 2009

The Return of the Sun

Santa was more generous to me this year than ever before.  Frankly he went so overboard I wonder if he has a bit of a crush on me.  And the ones I received from Eddie the Cat were too well wrapped and the writing was too clear for someone with no opposable thumbs, so I'm thinking Santa had a hand (har har) in those too.  Makes me a bit uncomfortable, what with Santa watching every move I make and all.  He does seem to know me well, though. 

On a related note, isn't it interesting that our culture has developed a tradition where we deliberately tell stories to kids we want them to believe, knowing there will come a time that we have to tell them it was just a story?  I hear my atheist friends snorting a bit, but this is still different; the Santa story is generally told by people who don't believe it themselves, but want their listeners to.  Dad says his mother didn't think it was fair to the people who actually bought the presents not to get credit for them, so she always said Santa was just the delivery man.  I guess then the magical reindeer become the key element of the story.  Seems like finding out the truth in that situation wouldn't be too traumatic.  Mary and I were trying to recall if we ever believed in Santa; we think we did briefly, in a sort of absent-minded way, enough so that finding out the truth came with no pain.  At least neither of us can recall ever being upset by the facts, and since I'm six years younger than she is, she would have at least remembered if I got upset about it.  Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, have there always been imaginary creatures we wanted kids to believe in, with the understanding that finding out the truth was a right of passage?  Some sort of initiation ceremony?  There have been fairies, gnomes, ghosts, poltergeists and other mythical beasties that both adults and children believed in, but that's not the same dynamic at all. 

Just thinking onscreen.  No real point to my meandering. 

I deliberately sat in James' usual spot during the gift exchange so I wouldn't have to look at it.  Don't know if that made things better or worse for the rest of the family, but we all seemed pretty festive.  Unlike other years, when she seems largely indifferent to it, Fang actually seemed excited about her jingle bell collar this year.  When it was brought out she pranced right over to have it put on.  She does a lot of prancing, actually.  Another thing I love about her.  I'm reaching an age where I'm not embarrassed to prance or skip in public, life being too short and all, and am still physically capable of doing them both more or less.  So I got that going for me.  Seems like a key point in development. 

Fang's present this year was a very sturdy stuffed octopus, with squeakers in the head and each of the eight legs.  Mary loves tormenting Mom and Dad with squeaky toys for the dog, since said dog is fondest of squeaking them during tender, quiet moments on the TV.  Mary was confident this toy would be too tough for Fang to disembowel with her usual alacrity (the dog will play with her toys forever, but she prefers them as pelts), so Mare accepted Mom's wager that Fang would have two of the squeakers removed by the time we sat down to Christmas dinner.  Within fifteen minutes Fang had joyfully ripped the stuffing out of the octopus' head (nobody disembowels with more brio than she) and removed the biggest squeaker.  She's got another thirty minutes to make Mom look good, but Mary already feels like she lost.  Since Quakers frown on gambling, they bet each other some turkey, with the implicit understanding that the winner would share some with the loser.  Okay, so not much of a bet, but there was a handshake. 


As I've said before, grief is deepening gratitude.  James crops up in all sorts of ways, especially in trigger words or situations where he would have trotted out some of his shtick.  James had a lot of shtick, and as is usually the case with such things, loved making us all groan or roll our eyes, so his delight increased with each repetition.  I'm sure he'd be thrilled to know how many of them we find ourselves repeating, inspite of ourselves. 

Mary created an accent light for Dad's office that involves a glass brick, two strings of Christmas lights, and and god's own plenty of corks.  It is inspired.  She also created a rather handsome garland for their outdoor tree with another pile of them (photos when I return to NYC).  That leaves only about 45 million corks left in her 'collection.'  Oh, at the Italian restaurant on Friday, we actually saved one of the two corks.  Mary is maintaining her cork collection now.  I can hear James chortling gleefully over that development.

Feelings about love, about the dynamic power of it, of the way I've felt myself surrounded by it, a channel for it, these thoughts are percolating about in my head right now, but are not forming into articulate thoughts just yet.  Maybe I've said all I can on the subject for the time being.  Certainly there are ways in which old cliches feel new-minted in my life, but that doesn't mean they'll sound new-minted coming from me.  For now, let me just say thanks for the love I have received from you all this year.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bits of News

So I fly back to Indiana tomorrow, for Christmas with my family.  We're all going out to our favorite Italian restaurant that evening, assuming the weather accommodates my flight plans.  This restaurant has been the go-to place for our family celebrations for as long as I remember.  This occasion will be the first time we've all gone since James' death.  There will be plenty of such firsts this season, of course, and for the next year.  Goody.  But as Mary says, the only way out is through, and we'll toast him, eat some good food, tell some favorite stories, laugh and cry.  When Dad first mentioned this plan to me, he said "We probably won't be the first guys sobbing in the men's room."  I agreed.  It's an Italian restaurant, after all, even if it's in the stoic Midwest.  I doubt we'll bother hiding in the men's room, frankly.  Why start now?

Huh.  That wasn't what I got online to tell you though.  First off, I did a bit of house-cleaning yesterday on this here bloggerino, adding some fun new links, and updating old ones (finally, Greg, I'll be sending people directly to the Midnight Garden).  If any of my links don't work, please do let me know.

One of the new links is called Queer New York.  The illustrious, intriguing, and ever-productive Father Tony started a new blog focusing on life in New York from a queer perspective (did you pick up on that from the name?), and much to my delight he invited me to be one of the contributers.  Initially I was unsure if I should accept for a few reasons: 1) I haven't exactly been burning up the interwebs here at my present blog, why add another blog to ignore, 2) I rarely managed to go anywhere or do anything even remotely New York City-related AND 3) I didn't seem to know more than, oh, let's say three gay men in New York, and maybe six world-wide.  Starting this blog actually doubled the number of gay men I interacted with on a regular basis, and I haven't even met all the local ones face to face.

(Okay, if I didn't link to you in the paragraph above, don't take it personally, it was just taking all day, and I have other things I need to do.  Did I mention I'm flying to Indiana tomorrow?  I will also admit that if you haven't posted anything on your blog for two or more months, I didn't link to you.  Doesn't mean I don't love you, I just figure you didn't need the pressure.)

Fortunately my natural tendency towards gluttony won out though, and I accepted Tony's invitation.  I only have two modest posts up at this point, but I anticipate this being a fun endeavor to be part of.  There's some wonderful stuff there, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else comes down the pike.  Tony has assembled an eclectic mix of men and women (though he still wants to find more queer bloggers of color, so contact him if you fit the bill, or know someone who does), and has, with only a small number of caveats ("this won't be the place to post pictures of your cat") encouraged us to post anything we like.  Reviews of various kinds are making a big showing at present, but no doubt some of the fun with this venue will be seeing how it shapes itself over time. If there is a mission at this point, I'd say it would be to give out of towners the inside scoop on LGBT life in NYC.  PDQ.  RSVP.  BTW.  LOL. (OMG did I just type LOL?  Seriously?)

Huh.  Don't know why I thought that was necessary.  I do feel like progressive politics tends to involve a LOT of acronyms, not that there's anything wrong with that.  And don't you love the caps button?  I sometimes wish I had one in my daily life, though the fact is city living would probably benefit from fewer caps buttons running around the joint.  Just in general.  Did I mention I'm going to Indiana tomorrow?  Have I mentioned before that I usually spend the first two days of my visits to Indiana sleeping, or wanting to sleep?  Sixteen hours at a stretch is not unheard of.  I call it the Richmond Coma, and I think the sheer dearth of NOISE (caps intended) has a physical effect on me.  My nervous system, which in cities is probably more nervous than is healthy, simply collapses. I usually come out of the coma ready for long walks and some serious dog-romping, though, and conveniently, there is a dog who loves to romp.  I might actually get some video footage of that, if Fang is amenable.  Amenable is her normal state, if not organizing principle, so I'm optimistic.  Whether or not I actually turn that video into something worth seeing, that's the real question here.  I'm less optimistic on that front, but not completely without hope.

Wow.  I DO go on.  I can't believe it's been two weeks since I posted anything here.  I don't know about the rest of you bloggers, but this process has evolved into a fairly useful processing tool for me.  I feel the lack when I don't do it.  Babbling on paper (what Dad calls 'bilge-pumping') is fairly necessary to my mental well-being too, but I think I've been reasonably good about not putting that stuff out on the internet for all and sundry.  Sundry gets really cranky about that kind of thing, and who can blame her?

I'm shutting up now.  But I've missed you, and hope to be writing more regularly, here at at the new house.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Body Surfing

I've always wanted to be amphibious. Flying would be cool too, but if I could only choose one superpower, I'd want to be able to live in water.
I've never done the Polar Bear thing, jumping into the Atlantic on January 1st, but I do like pretty cold water. When I was ten my family spent a week in Cleggan, on the west coast of Ireland, in late May to early June. We found an inlet beach close to the cottage and spent every day there. While my folks were happy just exploring the exquisite tidal pools -they really were exceptionally beautiful- my siblings and I would take breaks from this activity to jump in the frigid water. Dad waded in once up to his ankles, felt them lock up, and never saw it necessary to go back. Mary, James and I happily cavorted long past the point when we turned blue. Every day, for a week.
In Morro Bay, daytime temperatures were in the mid 60's F. I haven't a clue what the water temp was. I only went in a couple of times, to body surf. The soundtrack was usually something like this.

"Oooh, nice, that feels great WHOOPS WOW THAT'S COLD, WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH ME, WHOOPS, WHY AM I STILL WALKING," splash, dunk, "YOWZA, JEEESUS CERIST, DEAR GOD, WHAT AM I, A MORON?" paddle paddle paddle, "okay, getting better, WHOOPS WAH COLD," sputter, paddle paddle, "okay... no...whee... no...Okay... WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! LET'S DO IT AGAIN!"
And I would. I didn't stay in very long the first day, but the second time I didn't get out until I could no longer feel my feet.
I also learned a valuable lesson. When you jump into the Pacific on the spur of the moment, so you don't have a towel, and you get out of the water wanting a hug, you discover who your REAL friends are.