Thursday, August 30, 2007
I haven't been a daily poster and for that I am truly sorry. If there's one thing I've learned in sobriety, it takes constant, daily attendance at 12-Step meetings in order to get and to stay sober.
And it takes constant and daily posting to learn what a crappy writer I really am. Not to mention pompous, pedantic, petulant, pedestrian and, at times, downright pubescent.
But I procrastinate.
Sometimes I feel like I'm flying when I write. The words come out so fast I can't keep up. This especially happens when I'm writing about where I was in my drunkeness compared to where I am now or, really, anything to do with sobriety. Sometimes the words have to be dragged out, especially when I'm really pissed about something (usually a politician).
Sometimes I hit the "Publish" button and when I check it out on-line everything is perfect. Other times I have to edit and re-edit the piece until it finally makes some bit of sense.
And sometimes it's just hard to think of anything to write about. That's when I feel really "less than." I feel like I should always have something to say, something to contribute. But when I find myself feeling that way I try to remember that I don't share at every 12-Step meeting, either. Sometimes it's enough for people to just know that I'm there.... rather than where I used to be, 10 years ago.
I don't have a huge readership. I know a handful of my regulars (Bev, Alan, Steve & Luke) but other regulars I don't know at all. I just know that they're from Maine, Missouri, Lancaster (PA) and Los Angeles. But I appreciate every one of you and hope that sometimes I say something that makes it worth your time taking a look.
I got the impetus to start writing this because of Bev. Sometime around the turn of the century I hit bottom and she started her daily blog, "Funny The World" which, if you haven't read it, you should.
I started reading her daily postings about 4 years ago, then I started to read Steve's blog, "Living in the Bonus Round", and things just took off from there.
Now I'm an internet junkie (being a good alcoholic I do a lot of "transferrance" with my addiction(s)).
But I don't regret a single word I've posted here all year.
Until, of course, they come to haul me off to Gitmo because I think President Bush is an incompetent jerk.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, EVERYONE!
Now where's the friggin' cake?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
I spent the next couple of years a) not working and b) pissing away every dime I'd banked during my lucrative Wall Street years ('83-'94).
By the summer of '97 I was drunk pretty much 24/7/365. The money was rapidly running out and I knew that it was only a matter of weeks before I had to shuck off this mortal coil.
(I'm sorry if this makes anyone out there feel squeamish, but it's the way it was.)
Now, in my insanity I hadn't actually "done" anything to prepare to do myself in. I hadn't bought any weapons or drugs to do the deed with. I vaguely recall having some notion of using "household goods" of some sort or another to do it. I remember a box cutter which I thought would do the trick (don't try this at home, kids), only it turns out you need a tub full of hot water in order to "bleed out". A bucket of warm vomit won't work.
Anyway, I didn't even get that far. The Labor Day weekend arrived and I was drifting in and out of consciousness when suddenly I became dimly aware that "something" was happening. That "something" was the announcement that Princess Diana had been in a horrific auto accident in Paris.
Well, that perked me right up. I remember blearily trying to focus on the screen (I had a 48" Sony XBR rear-projection tv in those days) and thinking (well, sort of), "OH, THISH IS SUCH A TRAGEDITY", so, naturally, I forgot all about dying (me, at any rate) and started thinking about what a wasted young life had been extinguished in Paris that weekend.
And I watched, every time I wasn't passed out, for the next week.
What had been missing from my life for months and even years at that point had been... TA-DAH! drama. Now I had plenty of drama. It wasn't my drama, but I made it my drama.
Anyway, I was pretty insane in those days (as you can tell), but I'm not nearly so now.
10 years ago Princess Di's life, which wasn't supposed to have ended, did. 10 years ago my life, which was supposed to have ended, didn't.
I'm glad God doesn't ask my opinions about anything. I'd be giving her all kinds of crazy-assed advice if She did.
Monday, August 27, 2007
As often happens with these things, it took me awhile to start to feel comfortable there, but then I started to get to know the people, and now I've come to love and care about most of them.
Last Saturday night one of the old-timers there, Mr. X, celebrated 40 years of continuous sobriety. His partner, Mr. Y, threw him a big bash and all the other members of this particular meeting brought food for the event. I had a brought a sponsee with me who is struggling to stay sober. I thought doing a little "service" would help him to forget his own problems, just for a while at any rate. I wasn't wrong. He's a landscape architect by trade but like most of us he has "the gay gene" when it comes to table arrangements and room decoration. I turned him loose on the place and he had a field day. We got there around 6:00 p.m. and things started to really percolate around 7:00 p.m.
By 7:00 there were probably 50-60 people at the dozen or so large round tables set up in the vestibule of the local Unitarian Church we had kidnapped for the evening (truth be told, we have our regular meeting downstairs on "non-event" nights). By 7:30 the crowd had swelled to well over a hundred and so we started to file into the church proper for the main event of the evening. A 12-Step Meeting with our Anniversary Boy as the only speaker.
I was honored to have been asked to read one of our "Opening Statements of Purpose" which generally precede a good 12-Step Meeting and as I looked out over the crowd I was suddenly overwhelmed by feelings of gratitude and humility. Gratitude for my sobriety and for the overwhelming extent of my non-biological family, humility to think that only 9 and a half years ago I was a falling down drunk without a friend in the world (well, damn few, God love 'em).
Mr. X was wonderful. He has a long and illustrious association with recovery, within the gay community, in and around the Philadelphia area. Hell, he had gotten sober before I even came out! He was going to meetings in Philly when I was just starting to venture into the gay scene there in the early 70's.
After the meeting had ended and we were cleaning up the debris of the "eatin' portion of the meeting, a gentleman who looked slightly familiar came up to me and asked me if I remembered him. Luckily, I did. I had met him years before at a gay meeting in Rehoboth, DE. His partner of many years had recently died and although he knew Mr. X and Mr. Y he didn't know too many other people at this shindig, so he was delighted to see a familiar, friendly face.
Like a lot of people in recovery I started out life with a less than ideal family but in recovery I have found wealth beyond measure by gathering around me a family of like-minded people whom I can genuinely love and trust.
I guess you could call them
A Family I Chose.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Iowa, of course, was immortalized by Meredith Willson in his musical, "The Music Man" in which he lovingly described his fellow Iowans thusly:
"Oh, there's nothing halfway about the Iowa way to treat you,
if we treat you, which we may not do at all.
We can be cold as the falling thermometer in December
if you ask about our weather in July.
And we're so by-gone stubborn
we can stand touching noses for a week at a time
and never see eye-to-eye...
but what the heck, you're welcome, join us at the picnic
you can have your fill of all the food you bring yourself.."
Oklahoma, of course, is in a category by itself. Rodgers & Hammerstein saw to that.
But both of those are musical theater.
Nobody ever wrote a musical about Virginia, or Maryland or (God forbid) Delaware. Not even New Jersey.
This is not to say that New Jersey doesn't have it's fair share of songs about it, and places in it.
"Wildwood Nights" Ah, my mispent youth.
"Palisades Park" Freddie "boom-boom" Cannon
and many others. But my absolute favorite, without exception, is this one. It's by The Boss. And Route 9 is real. It runs right through the Boss's hometown of Freehold. I've been on it and under it beaucoups plenty of times, usually on my way "down the shore" to Asbury Park, home of The Stone Pony where the "E" Street Band got it's start.
Here's the touching, tender, first verse, that so moved the hearts of thousands of New Jersey teenagers ever since it's release in the mid-70's:
"In the day we sweat it out in the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages out on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young
'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run..."
Hits ya' right here, don't it?
Are there any songs about your hometown or state that you just love?
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
First things first. My colleague in the blogosphere, Jake at NoFo, is mourning a member of his extended family today in a lovingly written memorial piece that you should definitely check out. Jake's writing tone and style are so beautiful that I could swear he went to parochial school and probably even knows what a gerund is and, more importantly, where to place it when diagramming a sentence. So go read it and fall in love with his writing
Next, my 12-Step "home group" is mourning the passing of a sweet old gentleman named Griff, who past away in his sleep last Monday evening. Griff was a stalwart member of our big book meeting on Tuesday morning and will be missed by all the regular irregulars, myself included.
Finally, apparently we should all be mourning the loss of someone near and dear to hearts of many an Englishman and the subject of one of Wm. Shakespeare's greatest plays, Richard Plantagenet (Richard III, King of England) who died this day in 1485 (age 32) at the Battle of Bosworth Field (the last English King to die in battle), thus ending the War of the Roses and marking the ascent of Henry Tudor, 2nd Earl of Richmond and scion of the Red Rose House of Tudor to the English (for it wasn't yet British) throne as Henry VII. (There's your entire sixth grade history class in one paragraph.)
You can't make this stuff up. There's a whole society devoted to the memory of the original Tricky Dick which you can check out here. Ignore those dead princes in the Tower. Richard was framed! And every year for as long as I can remember, on August 22nd, that society places an "In Memorium" piece on the obituary page of the New York Times. I have to admit, I get a real kick out of reading it every year.
But unlike those folks, when I realized I needed a hobby I took up blogging instead of worshipping a long-dead king.
I wonder who is crazier?
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
I won't whine (too much) about our lousy weather since the Caribbean has been getting the brunt of Hurricane Dean. But it is windy, wet and cold. We're getting the kind of rain that comes down sideways so that umbrellas, no matter how big they are, are useless from the waist down.
I wanted to pull a quote today from an op-ed piece by Frank Rich that appeared in this past Sunday's NYTimes. It has to do with Karl Rove's resignation and his so-called legacy. It's a long piece, but what's really germaine, I think, is this part:
"Last weekend's Iowa straw poll was a more somber but equally anachronistic spectacle. Again, it's a young conservative commentator, Ryan Sager,
writing in the New York Sun, who put it best:
'The face of the Republican Party in Iowa is the face of a losing party, full
of hatred toward immigrants, lust for government subsidies, and the demand that
any Republican seeking the office of the presidency acknowledge that he's little
more than Jesus Christ's running mate.'
That face, at once contemptuous and greedy and self-righteous, is Karl Rove's face. Unless someone in his party rolls out a revolutionary new product, it is indelible enough to serve as the Republican brand for a generation."
And that's from a conservative backer (albeit a young one). I think that both parties are well on their way to being completely out of touch with an increasingly younger electorate.
Gotta remember to send a couple of bucks to the Kuchinich campaign. Nobody else seems to have my best interests at heart.
Stay dry everyone!
Monday, August 20, 2007
I was vaguely aware that there are "dire consequences" to being diabetic. Heck, it ran on my mother's side of the family and I had a great aunt who wound up having a leg or two hacked off. But that was in the early 70's, I told myself, no need to worry about that sort of thing now. Besides, I thought, I have great medical care, something no one in my family ever had.
So I just did the right things and let the chips fall where they may.
Until I picked up today's New York Times. For reasons I don't understand the NYTimes has decided to do "in-depth studies" of the six major killer diseases in the US these days and they started the series, today, with diabetes.
Oh, lucky me.
I found out about "burnout" whereby a diabetes patient just gets sick and tired of all the crap they have to do in order to stay healthy as the months and years go by. I can see myself burning out on puncturing my fingers in oh, say, five or ten years. I can see getting tired of a diet of leaves and gravel. I can see being (well, I already am) burned out on trying to shed pounds. They took me off the drugs that are supposed to be the worst offenders for putting weight on diabetics and I spend a couple of hours a week on a treadmill. Still, I can't lose an ounce.
Then, to make matters worse, now that I've finished Harry Potter I've started reading "Michael Tolliver Lives" which is Armistead Maupin's new book about the denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, 30 years later. We don't get 40 pages into the book before the protagonist, Michael aka "Mouse", manages to acquire a trophy boytoy husband. So did Armistead.
I was lying in bed reading this last night and getting more and more depressed. So I bookmarked it, tossed it down, turned out the light and went to sleep.
There are times, such as these, when I wonder (even though I know I shouldn't) just what kind of divine plan I'm supposed to be fulfilling.
Or maybe it's just the crappy weather.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Carter Franke (pronounced "Frankie" as in "Goes to Hollywood.")
Well, first of all I want to assure you that Carter Franke is not just a faceless drone. She (and it is a "she") does exist. I know this because I have a niece in the credit racket down there, who used to work at Chase and, in a roundabout way, worked for Carter Franke.
The problem was that Chase's marketing department got so pumped up on the equivalent of marketing steroids that they didn't do a very good job of keeping track of whom they sent what to. It got so bad that there was a time when I was getting 3-4 of these things a WEEK in the mail. Last year, for Christmas, I sent my niece and nephew-in-law a card saying that they'd been "pre-approved" to spend an entire Christmas afternoon with Uncle Ron and I signed it, "Carter Franke." Needless to say, that greeting card made the rounds at Chase Credit Cards, Inc.
Their invitations to spend more all looked exactly the same. Oh, the masthead would change, depending on which outside company had gotten into bed with Chase in exchange for a piece of the action. Those included everything from AARP to AAA. But after the logo, the rest of the letters were identical.
It was absurd.
How did I get so popular? Beats me. Chase was one of the companies I owed a boatload of money to at one point. But I have a theory. When I got sober my credit was wrecked. I owed money to everybody. I thought it was insurmountable. However, after a couple of years, paying everybody a couple of bucks a month, that "mountain of debt" I thought I had, turned out to be about $16,000.00. Well, it's gone and has been for 4 or 5 years now. I also didn't run up any new debt while I was paying off the old debt. I lived on cash, checks and my debit card. Eventually, magically, my debt disappeared AND my credit score went from about 450 to 823.
You can guess the rest.
So when Chase went data mining at the credit reporting agencies, they come across my score and practically chewed their own paws off trying to get at me and my sterling credit reputation. It's the reason I was so rapidly approved for mortgage money earlier this summer. They took one look at my score (it was now down to 803 because I'd made the mistake of buying a car 2 years ago) and they wanted to write me checks, practically on the spot.
Prepare for what seems is a non sequitur but it isn't.
Now, with Hurricane Dean beating the crap out of Jamaica and taking aim at the Caymans, but with still thousands of miles to go before it hits the American mainland, President Bush has PRE-APPROVED disaster recovery aid and money for Texas.
Shocked? I know I am. Not.
Meanwhile, poor New Orleans still can't the kind of real money it needs from the Feds in order to fix itself up after Katrina.
Carter Franke has retired. She's been replaced by some other faceless drone who's name I've yet to memorize. But I'm sure I'll be seeing it plenty of times in the coming months and years.
Meanwhile though, I wonder if Carter would be interested in post-approving New Orleans for a couple of bucks?
Saturday, August 18, 2007
His Imperial Drunken Fratboyness still occupies the throne. There is some good news, though. The departure of Machiavelli (Rove) will open the floodgates of Republican defections from the White House over the next few months. Even Tony Snow is now talking openly about his "endgame" as Press Secretary so he can hit the speaker circuit and make some real bucks.
Meanwhile, though, the ship of state sails straight down the shitter and there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do about it.
Everyone pretty much agrees that the much vaunted and anticipated report by General Patraeus will be nothing but a bunch of phony-baloney bullshit straight out of bullshit central.
But enough of that.
I don't know what the weather is like in the rest of the country today but it is absolutely spectacular here in the mid-Atlantic. It's mild, dry, sunny with nary a cloud in the sky. Cool winds are blowing in from the Northwest, a welcome relief at this time of year... and nothing but bad news in February when "Alberta Clippers" sink us into deep-freezes for days on end rather than just cooling our bedrooms and emotions.
I took care of my daily chores early, spoke with a couple of other people in recovery, saw a movie ("Death at a Funeral", okay, nothing to write about though) and am about to sit on the front porch and read the paper (the New York Times, of course).
Tonight I'll pick up a sponsee of mine and we'll head on out to a gay meeting in Pennsylvania. I'll do my best to stuff his head full of recovery for the 40 minutes it takes to drive to and from the meeting. He can't escape while we're on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, just north of Philly.
It's already been a wonderful day... with every promise of getting better by the minute.
I hope you have a wonderful day, too!
Friday, August 17, 2007
Here's what I think is happening. I go to bed and read a chapter. Then I fall asleep. Sometime, in the middle of the night, Jo Rowling (that enchantress), sneaks into my bedroom and whisks my copy of HP&TDH away to a secret bindery, not far away. There they carefully break the binding on my book, install another sheath of papers representing another 3-4 chapters, rebind it and she sneaks it back under my bed, just seconds before the alarm goes off.
It's obviously a plot to make me look like I'm a slow reader, which I'm not. What were we talking about?
Oh, yes, they convicted Padilla of something, probably of thinking or saying evil things about Vice President Darth Voldemort or President Fake Southern Drunken Fratboy Who's Really a Spoiled-Rotten Ivy-League New England Preppie and Guard Deserting Drunken Fratboy -- and don't laugh, we're all next!
And I have one question. A half a trillion dollars, over 3,000 American military casualties and 4 years of war in two foreign nations have gotten us exactly what?
WHERE IS OSAMA MR. PRESIDENT?
Here's what I think. Every night we get close to ending the war. Then Fratboy falls asleep, and that bitch, the Veep, sneaks into his room and adds another six months of war to his presidency.
I can totally relate. I'll never finish the book. And you can
BET YOUR BOTTOM DOLLAR THAT GEORGE W. BUSH WILL NEVER FINISH THE WAR IN IRAQ.
Note to the NSA data miners. This concludes our broadcast for today. We hope you have enjoyed our program and will join us again tomorrow. Have a pleasant evening everyone.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Which Harry Potter Character Are You?
|You are Fred and George. You're a joker at heart, but when push comes to shove, you know what's important.|
|Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com|
I polished off some more of HP&TDH last night... and I'm still not finished. Most of the chapter I read involved Harry peering into something called the "Pensieve" and seeing a lifetime of someone's recollections in there (I won't tell you who but let's put it this way... somebody else died last night).
So a lot more was revealed and much of it clarifies a lot of other stuff and it's the kind of stuff that makes kids feel like shit when they find out there ain't no Sanity Clause or Ether Bunny.
And then I fell asleep.
So I'm kinda hoping to finish it off tonight (yeah, yeah, you've heard all this before).
It won't be giving away much to say that Harry is finding out "stuff" and that stuff is all part of seeing "The Big Picture." He's lost his innocence and is beginning to see life in shades of gray. Few, indeed, were those who were pure as snow or as black as night in his make-believe world. Sometimes things had to happen for the greater good, and it was a tough call, sometimes, to decide who lived and who died in the process.
The progression in the books was logical. They've gone from naivete to cynicism.
It happens to all of us. It happened to me (and far later in life than the Merry Band of Hogwartians experienced it).
This year, for example, I've had to face some hard realities about my so-called friends in public office. In order to get elected candidates on both sides of the aisle feel as though they have to kiss fundamental ass, left and right. It's tough being a centrist in a divided nation.
It's tougher being a dove in a nation of chicken-hawks, most of whom never had a gun pointing back at them when they were out hunting, or had a "Bear" (Tupelov) circling overhead while serving on an aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean during the heighth of the Cold War.
We are not a nation "at" war. We are a nation which needs war. We need it to feed and justify the existence of our humongous defense establishment. The Super Secret Spy programs exist solely for the purpose of justifying their own existence. Hence "data mining" or looking at billions of phone calls and e-mails (and probably blogs like this one) looking for any hint of subversive tendencies (they'll find plenty here).
There's no long-term strategic need for us to be in the Middle East. Nobody there is crying out for America (or western Europe) to save them from themselves. I've known this ever since I saw "Lawrence of Arabia" at the age of 14 and had it all explained for me in the last 15 minutes of that movie wherein Prince Faisal sells out the rest of the Middle East to the English in exchange for Saudi Arabia. When it got too hot for the Brits to handle after WWII, they dumped it on us.
We could've gotten off of oil a long time ago except for one thing. American Corporate Greed which is, was and always will be the driving factor in ALL American policy, foreign and domestic.
And if you think otherwise, then it's time for you to quit taking baby steps and to start looking at The Big Picture.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
I got an e-mail today from my newly favorite New Jersey Assemblywoman with an attached list of grievances against Academy Bus Lines. She asked me if I had anything I'd like to add. She must be kidding. She also advised me of the next "town hall" meeting that she's scheduled in order to have a public bitch-fest against the Poor Little Besieged Bus Company (cue the violins). I plan to attend, of course. Especially after she pointed out that over the last six years bus fares have risen 50%. I knew it was a lot, but not that much. Correspondingly, service has gotten at least twice as shitty in the same period of time.
And it seems that people on the other side of the state (towards the shore, along the Garden State Parkway route) have the same problems with Academy that those of us over on the NJ Turnpike route have.
At this point I'm urging a public boycott of Academy Bus lines.
Hump-Day. I could use a good hump right about now. Or at least a good long ... nap. At my age sleep is just as good as sex (to the best of my recollection).
I ran into an old drinking buddy of mine over at Joe.My.God yesterday. We reconnected, swapped some e-mails, and we're gonna do lunch some day next week. It'll be good to see
TTFN & AMF
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Way to go, Karl-Baby! A grateful nation tips it's hat (and middle-fingers) to you!
Remember about a year ago a tv commercial for Disney family vacations that featured a wholesome American family (mom, dad, two kids) trying to settle down into bed for the night but the kids can't sleep because they're going on a Disney Vacation and, to quote the boy, "WE'RE TOO EXCITED!!!"
Well, I woke up around 3:30 this morning, unable to sleep because (dammit) I'm too excited.
I've been taking my time with the last Harry Potter novel. I didn't want to rush through it. I wanted to savor it.
And I did, a chapter a day. But by bedtime last night I was staring at the last 275 pages and things were starting to really heat up (after stagnating for some time while Harry, Hermione and Ron wandered aimlessly in the forest).
No spoilers here, but things have started to get very interesting and my innate nosiness is starting to win out over my self-control.
Ergo sum, my eyes flew open at 3:30 a.m. Ostensibly I had to relieve myself, but I know better than that. I can almost always sleep the whole night through without the need to get up and take a mid-sleep whizz. Even my urologist is in awe of my prostate.
So I read for an hour or so and knocked off another 100 pages.
It's a little after 1:00 p.m. eastern now and I'm practically dozing off at my desk. Yet all I can think of is "can I finish it tonight?"
I can hardly wait to find out if Lord VoldeRove gets magically whacked in the end!
Monday, August 13, 2007
Instead I found the most overpriced unisex salon in Princeton and called them for an appointment. It turns out that the place is a shrine to Paul Mitchell hair products and they actually have "grades" of stylists. A Level I stylist ($35.00) is probably fresh out of beauty school and wouldn't know product if she/he fell over it. They have levels up to and including V. I got a lovely Level IV stylist (and why do I suddenly feel like I'm getting my hair styled by a friggin' Scientologist?)
She was nice enough. I explained, patiently, about how I have "difficult" hair which is why I've been getting it cut by the same guy for 20 years. I told her about the "side-part." She listened politely, then showed me a bunch of pictures in some big book full of chiseled, starved, golden youths with fabulous hair-dos.
She then proceeded to chop the crap out of my baby-fine/silver/gray hair and now I look like the way Jimmy Fallon will probably look in another 25 years. It's all spikey and short, with cowlicks sticking out all over the place. I'm to go back in two weeks for a free "tune-up", whatever the hell that is.
Anyway, Mz. Level IV's services cost me $50.00 for the cut (plus $10.00 for a tip) plus parking in Princeton on Saturday (another $6.00). So, all in all, I might as well have gone into Manhattan to get it done there.
But to be honest, I like it. I like it being different.
I could always count on my old stylist to do exactly the same thing he'd been doing for 20 years, risk free, over and over again. My head had become "Groundhog Day."
Now it looks like it belongs in the 21st century.
Oh, and I didn't buy any Paul Mitchell Product.
I buy all my hairstyling needs at Target. I highly recommend "Got2BGlued." That shit is like epoxy. If you still have hair, go buy some!
p.s. I forgot to mention that I took myself to see "The Ten" after my haircut. It was mildy amusing (i.e. slightly sacrilegious), but fell far short of of the side-splitting "Dogma" (the mere viewing of which automatically condemns one for all eternity -- rent it tonight!!!)
Friday, August 10, 2007
Kucinich and Gravel are really on our side, but they're also both pretty unelectable. Still, I'm seriously thinking about throwing a few bucks towards the Kucinich campaign.
Edwards just looked and sounded smarmy to me.
Richards is really unlikeable.
Obama is "ok" but, as another blogger wrote, he's "not riveting." At least not on LGBT issues. Still, he is a hopemonger (his word), and I'm a pushover for them.
The real revelation, though (and why do I continue to be surprised by this) was Hillary's "spin" on her views. She was asked why she was "against gay marriage" and without losing a beat she responded with "I'd prefer to think of it as being pro civil union."
If I were a Clinton I could believe whatever I want, with no harm nor foul towards others.
One of the questioners, Melissa Etheridge (who came out during the first Clinton administration's Inaugural Ball), took Hillary to task by recalling that "we were full of hope" and then (in her words) "we got kicked under the bus."
Don't ever forget that the Clinton's did, indeed, kick us under the bus. They were nothing if not pragmatic sell-outs.
And as far as I'm concerned the LGBT community no longer has the luxury of backing "pragmatic sellouts" for President. For too long the parties have taken our money, courted our votes and finally, when elected, ignored our simplest needs. Fuck politics and fuck politicians.
Finally, I'd like to point out that Chris Dodd (Connecticut) and Joe Biden (Delaware) were no-shows for the event. I'm not surprised that Biden wasn't there. He voted in favor of DOMA. Once upon a time I believed in Biden. That was in 1972, when he was the youngest elected Senator in history (he turned 30, the minimum age, between the election in November and the swearing in in January). It's been downhill with him ever since.
None of the candidates suggested what I've been suggesting for some time. To get government out of the "marriage" business altogether. You don't find government in the marriage business in Europe. Everybody in Europe who gets married in a church has to traipse downtown after the fact to "seal the deal" by filling out government paperwork, confirming the contract between the parties involved.
And that's what we should have here. Let the churches have all the weddings they want. It won't mean a damn thing until the bride and groom head to city hall to sign the contract.
And everybody will be on an equal footing then.
And church can keep it's "holy sacrament."
I'd like one of the candidates to propose that.
Thursday, August 09, 2007
The other one was from the Terminal Manager of Academy Bus. He was clearly not a happy camper and immediately set out to slap my hand because I transposed two numbers when I referred to the bus with the fucked-up airconditioning.
THAT'LL TEACH ME.
He also denied that they don't have an overnight maintenance shift and cordially invited me to "drive by the facility" sometime at night to view the lit up yard... from afar. He went on to explain that "due to ongoing construction, it wouldn't be safe to invite you IN."
He denied that they send out buses with broken air-conditioning, which is just a bald-faced lie. And, finally, he said, more or less, that his drivers were the finest drivers on earth and needed no adjustment to their attitudes or their abilities.
Yeah. Right. Yada-yada-yada.
Like I care about his problems.
So I've been busy cooking up a "form" for evaluating bus service, on a ride by ride basis, which I intend to print up and hand out to everyone at my bus station for the next several weeks. It tracks things like the arrival and departure times vs. the actually scheduled times, the status of the coach interior, the comfort of the seats, whether or ot the a/c was working, the courteousness/professionalism of the driver and a special column to note any "mitigating circumstances" regarding the commute. That would be for things like unavoidable delays on the highway due to accidents or weather. Look, I want to be fair about this.
I got this idea from my days of living in New York City. When I moved to New York in 1978 the subways were a shiteous mess. Graffiti blocked all the windows on the cars, the platforms were filthy, trains arrived late, if at all, and the whole place reeked of human excrement and exuded danger at every turn.
Then somebody, God bless 'em, started to organize and the next thing anybody knew there was something call "The Straphangers Association" and all of a sudden there were people, with clipboards and stop-watches and schedules and forms, standing on every subway platform, making copious notes about arrivals and departures and announcements and MTA employees.
And in no time at all the subways were suddenly clean, and new, and beautiful and safe and you could finally understand the announcements blaring from the loudspeakers (well, sometimes).
All the politicians in New York City couldn't do a friggin' thing about the lousy subways... but a handful of citizens could.
I believe in citizen action. I believe in citizen OVERSIGHT.
Now I want the mofos who run the bus companies where I live to be accountable. Something they are not now. Or not much. Mostly there's a lot of standing around and fingerpointing and denying everything.
They're like 4 year olds alone in a room with a broken lamp. "IT FELL" they say.
Oh, and that state legislator I mentioned, above. She wants me to join her rabble-rousing campaign to put a knife to the bus companies collective throats.
I emailed her back, "SIGN ME UP, ASSEMBLYWOMAN!"
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
They repeatedly expressed a desire for me to come and stay with them in London. I was extremely touched by their kindness. They even bought lunch.
It's funny how we think our friends never age. I could've sworn they look the same today as on the day I met them, many years ago.
They're in New York for just a few days, visiting a lot of our old friends... friends whom I don't keep in very good touch with, I'm afraid. They leave for home tomorrow. Their itinerary wore me out just listening to it. They started out in Cleveland, drove up through Michigan, across to the Upper Peninsula, down through Wisconsin and then to Chicago. On the east coast they've been to D.C., Connecticut and New York.
This is something I love and admire about English gay couples "of a certain age." They are absolutely devoted to each other and wouldn't know what to do with themselves without each other. John and Steve are like that. As were the other English couples I met throughout the years. John & Ken, Nick and Robin and my dearest friend in England, Tom, and his late partner, Beauchamp. Beachie, as they nicknamed him, passed away in 1983 and Tom never repartnered aside from.. well, "cozy relationships with younger men" throughout the years.
The English are nesters.
I wish I'd been one.
Lousy weather wreaks havoc with morning commute in New York. Nudes and leather at 11:00!
I wrote the following e-mail to the general manager of the bus company I am forced to use every day, and copied my state senator and two assemblypeople:
Dear Mr. XXXXXXXX,
I had the misfortune to be stuck in Academy bus number 8013 on Monday night for the evening commute from PABT in New York to the South Brunswick Park and Ride at Exit 8-A. It was 95 degrees inside the bus according to the red gauge on the dashboard. It was also 95 degrees outside the bus according to the radio.
Please try riding in one of your own buses on a 95 degree day, with no air conditioning, for an hour sometime. Trust me, you won't like it.
Then, this morning, your terminal sent 8013 back out for the 1st Madison Avenue run of the day (Dep: Twin Rivers at 5:40 a.m., Dep: South Brunswick 6:10 a.m.) It barely made it to the Park and Ride before the driver had no choice but to call it in for lack of air conditioning and your terminal had no choice but to send a service mechanic with another bus. He arrived 20 minutes after our scheduled departure time. We arrived at 59th & Madison at 8:15, nearly an later than usual due to the late departure, the usual buildup of weekday traffic on the Turnpike at that later time and the inclement weather.
By all accounts bus number 8013 is poorly maintained. Apparently no one ever actually works on repairing the air conditioning system, they merely recharge it, send it back out and hope for the best.
It's also known that your terminal no longer has a night shift for maintenance. How can you expect to maintain buses when they're on the road all day? You can't. Apparently it’s Academy’s policy to allow the buses to break down before taking action.
Then there’s the matter of the driver. After several mis-starts you've been sending us a very pleasant and polite man to replace our driver of many years, Rxxxxx Jxxxxx who recently retired. The replacement is, no doubt, an excellent charter driver.
But as you know, a good charter driver does necessarily make a good city driver.
Our new driver really needs to "toughen up" in order to deal with the aggressive and pushy taxi and bus drivers of Manhattan. Unfortunately, your man tends to "roll over and play dead" in city traffic, rather than tackling it the way Mr. Jxxxxx used to tackle it.
Your driver's curb-hugging timidity adds significantly to the time needed for the city portion of the morning commute.
It’s unreasonable to expect Mr. Jxxxx to come out of retirement for our benefit, but in exchange for the 4,140 post-tax dollars I give your Company every year in exchange for a lift to and from work, I do expect for you to 1) send us buses which have functioning air conditioning, b) send them on time and c) toughen up your drivers a little for city traffic.
Thank you for listening.
Very truly yours,
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
"Hey. It's a fucking commute. Whaddya expect? A pleasure trip?"
Well, no, I don't expect a "pleasure trip." But I do expect the fucking bus to show up when it's scheduled to show up. And when it's 95 degrees out, I expect the temperature INSIDE the bus to be somewhat less than the ambient temperature OUTSIDE the bus. In other words, the bus should be in good operating condition, including the climate control system.
But most of all, I expect the drivers of the buses to not turn into a bunch of quivering, whimpering pussies the minute their bus leaves the general safety and spaciousness of the New Jersey Turnpike to navigate the crowded, dangerous, aggressive, mean streets of New York City.
Regrettably, my expectations are, apparently, way too high for the two bus companies which service my area of central New Jersey. I refer to:
Suburban Transit / Coach USA
750 Somerset Street
New Brunswick, New Jersey 08901
Academy Express, LLC
2042 Route 541
Westampton, New Jersey 08060
I've "done the math" on the buses which leave my park and ride. At worst each bus that leaves the park and ride in the morning will GROSS $100,000.00 per year. It'll garner another $100,000.00 for the return trip in the evening. Keep in mind this is a lousy 50 mile trip, each way. Then, of course, there's the fact that the buses don't just sit somewhere all day. In between commute periods they are CHARTERED OUT for children's day camps, to take Seniors down to Atlantic City for several hours of gambling fun, etc.
Add another $100,000.00 gross revenue for that.
So you would think that at $300,000.00 per year, per bus, they could at least keep the buses from breaking down on the turnpike and the air conditioning going during the dog-days of August.
But they don't.
And the state, and our representatives, don't seem overly eager to do anything about it, either. I'd love to follow the donation trail, if I could.
Oh, and I forgot to mention that the bus companies are SUBSIDIZED by the state for running these routes. To the point where I'm pretty sure the state buys the buses for the companies in return for a modest lease fee (a buck a year?).
Welcome to New Jersey! Where crookedness runs from top to bottom and back again!
Monday, August 06, 2007
I didn't have any hope when I first came into the program. I just wanted to be dead. Undeniably and reliably dead. I thought God hated me which is why he kept me alive. It was just another slap in the face from the Almighty. So I thought. It turned out to be more like a good, swift, kick in the ass.. which is what I really needed (and wanted).
I got hope by the end of my 2nd meeting. I'll tell you how it happened. My first 12-Step meeting was on Tuesday morning, March 10th, 1998. It was at 7:00 a.m. This "Early-Bird" meeting actually meets six days a week (not on Sundays) at 7:00 a.m. At the end of that first meeting (for which I was about 15 minutes... and 29 years, late) I'd gotten a taste of the understanding that there were others "like me" in the world.
But it wasn't until my 2nd meeting, on Wednesday morning, that I got that glimmer of hope. For, you see, when I walked into that meeting (and I was on time for it), I saw a lot of the same faces that I had seen the day before.
In other words, they had managed to stay sober for 24 hours without looking any the worse for it (unlike me). And that gave me hope.
As time passed, though, and I began to realize that the only way I was going to "stay stopped" from drinking would be by changing... everything... about me.
There's a joke in our area to the effect that "alcoholics are like babies diapers... they should be changed often... and for the same reasons."
As I slowly changed everything about me, the drama slowly disappeared from my life. I became serene, largely unflappable and mostly content in the knowledge that things are exactly the way they're supposed to be, that God is running the show and not Ron-Almighty, and that my "job" in life from now on is simply to do the best I can to a) stay sober, b) practice these principles in all my affairs and c) to try to help the still sick and suffering alcoholic inside, and outside, of the rooms.
Which all sounds lovely and altruistic except that every now and then a) I want some cash and prizes and b) I still feel "less than."
Which is why I need hugs.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
And boy, are my fingertips tired! (BA-DAH-BING!)
I mentioned, also, that the readings have all been quite within specs and reason. Yeah, well, I should elaborate on that.
You see, as a recovering alcoholic and, therefore a bald-faced, lying, conniving, dope-fiending, truth-twister, I may have gone out of my way all week to be on my VERY BEST BEHAVIOR, eating-wise, so that the readings would be well within specs when the time came to take them.
What I'm hoping is that the doctor, who knows I'm a recovering drunk, will take that into account when he looks at the numbers after I fax them to his office on Monday.
See, I've come a long way from the bad old days when, during my annual physicals when my doctor would ask if I drank and, cause I always answered yes to that, when he next asked me, "how much?" my stock response was the same stock response that every lying drunk gives...
"Oh.... a couple" (of quarts)
All doctors who treat active alcoholics (or even people whom they suspect are alcoholics) should automatically add in a "drunk factor" of at least 35-50% more than whatever the drunk/druggie as copped to.
Last week I avoided anything even faintly resembling a starch. No potatoes, no rice, no bread, mostly salads, soups, some fruit and some really lousy frozen TV dinners from Healthy Choice (sorry Healthy Choice, it's not your fault you don't make Hungry Man Dinners).
So when my doctor looks at the weeks numbers and sees that they "average" 100mg, he should probably see that as being more like 130-150mg, instead (which still ain't bad for an average that's fasting, pre and post meal, 1 hour prior to eating, bedtime and mid-sleep cycle.
Sigh. It's hard doing the right thing.
After all, I am an alcoholic.
And only human.
p.s. Go see "The Bourne Ultimatum." It's great and I'm in love with Matt Damon again.
Friday, August 03, 2007
Let’s face it, Middle Easterners are never happier than when they live in a totalitarian dictatorship OR are left in peace to murder each other in fits of brotherly distrust and hatred. Usually religion based.
Thank God we don’t live in a nation where people bash each other over their religious beliefs, unlike those Heathens over there.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Looks straight as an arrow, doesn't he?
If, like me, you thought that all BAC/Fundie churches are run by a bunch of fat, bald, ugly old men, why not drop by the New Life's website and check out their Personnel Roster.
As my buddy Steve Schalchlin might say, "They're the gayest gays in Gayville!" I don't care if they are married with children, I can smell some of their "eau de queer" wafting through the internet. And my gaydar is not the best.
But they're not the little pricks I was thinking about in the title of today's blog.
My Endocrinologist, Dr. Mengele, recently ordered me to do a marathon glucose monitoring test. I have to check my blood sugar 8 times a day (including one reading in the dead of night) for 4 days running.
By the end of the test on Friday I will have burned through a month's supply of lancets and test strips. These are not cheap and most medical plans give you a ration of shit for "overusing" your usual 90-day allotment of them. So I had Dr. Mengele phone in a prescription for a short-term supply (50 of each) to my local Rite-Aid (formerly Eckerds).
This morning started day 3 of the test and based on what little I know about this disease I have, my readings look as though they're well within specs. Of the 18 readings so far, I've had a top-reading of 126 at 2:30 a.m. on Wednesday and a low of 91 at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday.
My fingers are so friggin' sore I'll probably never play the piano again. Worse, it looks like I'm the stupidest junkie in the world, shooting up in my finger tips where everybody can see the puncture holes.
I'm grateful as hell that I have health insurance and doctors, but sometimes I sure wish they'd get a new hobby.
The little pricks.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
It lies at the northern end of the most beautiful section of the park. Just behind the photographer (who is standing at the top of the grand staircase), lies the "Grande Allee" of trees which is the most "Parisienne" part of the park.
I never ceased to be amazed that the park was designed AND built at a time when the only tools they had to do the vast amount of digging that had to be done were dynamite and shovels.
The park was started in 1858 and took 20 years to complete. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Lowe.
When I first moved to New York, in the sexually charged 70's, there was a section of the Park which was ... well, let's just say that The Rambles after dark weren't exactly "Family Fare" and leave it at that.
But as time passed, it became clear to me that the Park served a lot of purposes other than just a place to have wild sex after-hours. There were free concerts (Simon & Garfunkel, the Philharmonic), theater (NY Shakespeare Festival) and lots of dogs, frisbies, Broadway league softball and general lollygagging around, out in the sun, or under the trees, on sultry summer afternoons.
I didn't spend nearly enough time in Central Park, as much as I liked it.
There are few things I actually miss about living in New York. But a walk in the park is definitely one of them.