Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kids that ruin your life

So the other day I'm eating lunch and overhear a conversation between two women who are mothers. One of them tells the other that Christmas is going to be really hard on them this year because the kids just want everything. Its not enough that last year they spent all that money on the latest Play-Station-Xbox-Game-Cube-Super-Mario-Wii-thingy. Now this year they want everything else that's come out in the meantime, as well as all the newest games to play on last year's contraption as well as this year's brand new contraption they don't even have yet.

The other mother tactfully tried to talk some sense into her friend. She said she understood, and then shared that she and her husband decided to tell the kids that the fact that they were not getting everything they wanted for Christmas did NOT mean that the parents (and Santa) didn't love them. Rather, it simply wasn't practical to give them everything at one time during the year. They wanted to spread out the gifts throughout the year.

The first mother confessed to the second that she felt a bit inadequate, since all the kids' friends were getting or had gotten all these things for Christmas this year or last year. She didn't want her kids to feel "left out". The second mother then said that even if they had the money to buy the kids everything they wanted, who had the time to do all that shopping and wrapping? Afterall, there are 30 or 40 other people for whom she also had to shop and wrap.

It took nearly all my self-control to keep from marching over to their table and slapping the both of them. "Do you realize your kids are ruining your life?" I wanted to ask them. "Do you really think it matters whether kids have everything they want or not?" I begged to implore them. "In your heart of hearts, do you really think your kids will be happier because they got everything they wanted for Christmas, rather than a few of the things they wanted?" I needed say. But I didn't.

The very next evening I was eating dinner in a restaurant and saw a couple with their young daughter walk up to the counter and place a take-out order. The parents stood near the bar and watched the TV mounted on the wall, while their daughter (who was probably no more than 5 years old) explored the small restaurant unattended. She walked over to the table by the front door and began raking her hands threw the large bowl of candy. 'Nice,' I thought to myself. 'God only knows where those hands have been'. I looked at the parents to see if they were rushing in complete horror to restrain her, but they weren't. Their eyes were fixed on the TV.

After contaminating all of the candy, she began walking around a long row of tables where diners were celebrating someone's promotion. The walking turned into running, which quickly resembled a Nascar race, with dizzying laps around the large oval 'track'. Just like you knew was going to happen, the little girl eventually slipped and fell to the hard tile floor. Several of the people dining inside the 'race track' looked over to see if the little girl was alright. Although she wasn't crying, I expected her embarrassed parents to realize their neglect and quickly scoop her up. But they didn't. They were still watching TV.

Finally, as the little girl ran as fast as she could up and down the aisle, bumping into a waiter with a large tray of hot dinner plates, the parents finally noticed their daughter. "Come here!" the mother shouted to her. "Noooooooo" the little girl responded, with a giggle. The mother walked toward the little girl, who then walked around to the other side of the long row of tables she'd been circling earlier. The mother changed directions, thinking she'd intercept the little girl. But this had apparently happened before and the little girl as onto the mother's not-so-clever tactic. The mother went left; the little girl went right. The mother went right; the little girl went left. The mother then decided the only way to end the game was to threaten the little girl with 'no TV'. Notice, it wasn't a threat of a spanking, which is still completely legitimate for a 5 year old. No, it was the threat of no TV. All the while, the father is still in a TV-induced trance.

I wanted to confront the parents. "Do you realize your daughter is ruining your life?" I think you know where I'm going here. But I didn't. I kept my mouth shut and thanked my luck stars that I was gay and that there was no chance that I'd accidentally produce a child who would ruin my life.

Drag Queen name of the day: Penny Loafer

Unseasonable

Wow, we have been having some crazy weather here lately! Perhaps 'unseasonable' might be a tad more specific that simply 'crazy'.

Here it is, the final days of November in DC and the temperatures have been in the 70s all week. Me and all the other convertible enthusiasts (and a few show-offs) have been driving around with our roofs down. Fri it is predicted that we will reach 75 degrees, which will break a record for that date.

But I ain't complainin'. I love 'convertible weather', whatever the season! Its just a bit odd to be listening to Christmas carols on the radio while driving with the roof down in short sleeves. Its not like this is southern CA. But like I said, I ain't complainin'.

But here's where the 'unseasonable' weather turns back to just 'crazy' weather: on Sat the high temperature is only supposed to be about 48 degrees. The poor bushes and shrubs will certainly be totally confused. "Wait a minute... I was just about to bud, and now I'm feeling sleepy again. What's up with that?" If only we knew. But like I said, I ain't complainin'.

Drag Queen name of the day: Betty Diddit

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a pretty big deal for us. It’s our holiday. Joe’s brother Louis and his wife host the family for Easter. His sister Mary and her husband host the family for Christmas. Joe & I host the family for Thanksgiving.

Since Joe is currently living in DE during the week, we decided to do our big Thanksgiving grocery shopping the Sun before. We went to the store at 8:30 in the morning to hopefully be able to shop without too much of a crowd. Then Wed night Joe came home and we firmed up our plans for Thurs.

In past years I would spend a couple hours Thurs morning cleaning the house while Joe prepared and cooked the food. But this year was a little different. Since our house in on the market for rental, I have been doing a good job of keeping it clean all the time, so there was no need to do a big housecleaning on Thurs morning. So, I helped Joe in the kitchen and it was fun. We cooked together. Well, mostly I just grabbed stuff from the fridge or pantry and handed it to him. But we worked on the meal together and it was enjoyable.

Joe tried a new technique with the turkey this year. In addition to seasoning and ‘stuffing’ the insides with an onion, celery, an apple and a lemon, he also made an herb butter that he slid underneath the skin. We cooked it in our Nesco roaster oven, leaving our regular oven available for other dishes. It was really delicious. We also made a dressing for which I suggested the ingredients: butter, onions, celery, granny smith apple, golden raisins, pecans, dried cranberries, and lots of sage and herbs. It’s a real crowd pleaser! We made a corn casserole and an Indian Pudding from recipes we saw on the Food Network. Both turned out great! Homemade turkey gravy, peas with butter and basil, and biscuits topped off our contributions to the meal.

My aunt Mary brought her Thanksgiving family favorites: an orange sherbet/jello mold with pineapple and mandarin oranges, affectionately known as the “orange stuff” by the kids, and a sweet potato shuffle, affectionately known as the “brown stuff” by the kids. Although the kids are old enough to now call the dishes by their names, they still use these primary terms to describe these yummy dishes.

Joe’s sister Mary brought amazing mashed potatoes, made from Yukon gold potatoes and lots of butter and cream, cranberry sauce, the obligatory green bean casserole, roasted butternut squash, and a pineapple upside down cake.

Joe’s mom brought 3 pies from Hill High Orchard, which was exquisite. Louis’ wife sent over 2 pumpkin pies, although they had dinner with her parents. Two family friends brought more pies and cakes, and Joe’s brother Paul and his wife brought a 2nd turkey.

I am in charge of setting the tables. Because we were expecting 18 for dinner this year we brought our wrought iron table and chairs from the back porch and positioned them on a rug in the living room. We have 3 matching table cloths to fit the kitchen table, dining table, and the porch table which unite the 3 dining areas. We use our ‘good’ dishes and flatware as well as our ‘everyday’ stuff, but keep them separated by table. No mixing on the tables!

When everything was ready we put all the food out on the kitchen counters and stove and everyone grabbed a plate from the tables and filed through the buffet. It was truly a delicious meal. I took a spoonful of everything until my plate was full, and then went back for a spoonful of the items I couldn’t fit on the plate the first time. We all enjoyed a tasty meal and lots of conversation and laughter. Later on we tried to find room in our stomachs to taste all the yummy pies and cakes. It was difficult but we managed. (grin)

Drag Queen name of the day: Claire Voyant

Thursday, November 16, 2006

9th annual Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival

I took off work last Thurs and Fri in order to attend the 9th annual Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival, Nov 9-12. I look forward to it every year!

For information about the Rehoboth Film Society and a summary of all the films shown at the festival, go to
www.rehobothfilm.com.

Here are the films Joe & I saw:

20 Centimeters. Enter the world of Marieta/Adolfo —a narcoleptic, pre-op transsexual prostitute who longs to get rid of the 20 centimeters of equipment that separates her from being the glamorous woman she longs to be. When she accidentally falls asleep, usually during the most inopportune moments, Marieta’s dreams become lavish and colorful musical numbers, where—as a “real woman”—she can sing in Spanish and English. This was very funny and very well done.

Shortbus, the story of a group of societal misfits who gather at a sex salon in New York. Every character in the film has some sort of sexual riddle to ponder: the sex therapist in search of her first orgasm, the gay couple wondering whether to open up their relationship to other partners, the larger than life dominatrix who can't stand the sound of her name and lives in a storage unit. This film was pretty graphic, but interesting - exactly what one might expect from an indy film festival.

Wild Tigers I Have Known. Logan is a 13 year old boy fixated on and older boy named Rodeo, the only one of the 'cool kids' who doesn’t go out of his way to make Logan’s life miserable. As Logan and Rodeo strike up a mismatched friendship, the kind that only works on walks deep into the forest when no one else is around, Logan’s infatuation with Rodeo inspires him to create a new persona named Leah. Leah and Rodeo grow close through whispered late-night phone calls, and when Leah agrees to meet Rodeo face to face, it is Logan who must finally prove that he can ask for what he so achingly wants. Although this film could have used much better editing, the story is all too familiar to most gay boys.

C.R.A.Z.Y. Zachary was born on Christmas Day, 1960, a fitting date for one destined for the road less traveled. His mom thinks her son has special powers but his father is not impressed. But can a sexually confused teenager survive four rough-and-tumble brothers and win the affection of his loving but old-fashioned father? Brimming with humor and bittersweet drama, C.R.A.Z.Y. is ultimately the triumphant story of a beautifully ordinary family, of parental love, and of the challenges of growing up different. This was mine and Joe's favorite film of the festival.

Puccini for Beginners. Allegra is a beautiful but commitment-phobic New Yorker in love with opera whose lesbian lover dumped her because she couldn’t settle down and say “I love you.” Then she meets Philip, a dapper professor who lights her fire. Against her better judgment, she launches an affair with him, while at the same time she falls into bed with the irresistibly gorgeous Grace, a recently single, straight woman. While juggling two romances that are advancing way too quickly for comfort, Allegra lands in hot water that boils over into an explosive, hilarious, and cathartic climax for all parties. We liked this film but I was a bit uncomfortable with the portrayal of Allegra's "fluid" sexuality, being simultaneously attracted to both men and women. I find this highly unusual, even for so-called bisexuals, who usually go through periods of preferring one gender over the other.

Go West follows the story of two young lovers, a Muslim cellist named Kenan, and a Serbian student named Milan. Kenan narrates their fight to survive amid the brutal inter-ethnic wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the early 1990s. As Serb aggression persists in Sarajevo, to avoid questioning, Kenan dresses as a woman and poses as Milan’s wife. The two flee to Milan’s hometown where Kenan is introduced as Milan’s bride. Far from the comedy I thought this film would be, it was a heart-wrenching story that could very well be true.

Eating Out 2: Sloppy Seconds is the sequel to the hilarious 'Eating Out'. When Kyle and Marc have a breakup that doesn’t quite feel final, Marc goes off in search of other prey, while Kyle heads to art class where he meets the exquisite nude model for the day Troy. (Seeing Troy nude is well-worth the ticket price.) Only Kyle can’t quite figure out who Troy likes: boys or girls? After seeing posters for a campus ex-gay group, Kyle's faghag convinces him to pretend he’s an ex-gay to see if he can get into mixed-up Troy’s pants. This film was silly and collegiate, and absolutely hilarious!

10% Shorts, a collection of GLBT-themed short films containted the following:
ARIE - Arie tells the story of Vittorio, a professional dancer who breaks up with his girlfriend because he falls in love with Marco, the choreographer with whom he is working. Vittorio’s feelings are not reciprocated by Marco. Although now alone, Vittorio feels stronger for having discovered a new self-image. This had beautiful choreography and music.
Can You Take It? Waiting in the station for a train, a group of strangers is detained after a women reports her wallet is missing. Through the eyes of a teenage girl, social misconceptions unfold in this film-noir psychological drama. I thought the teenage cleptomaniac needed to be slapped, personally.
Man Seeking Man - A 50 year old man seeks love for the first time through a personal ad. His estranged son arrives for an unexpected visit and is mistaken for the man's 'date'. I loved this little short.
Available Men - An agent is supposed to meet and sign a writer at the same lounge where an artist is to meet a nerdy blind date. Unfortunately for them, the agent and the artist have the same name, and so do the writer and the blind date. Both sets of men struggle to make sense of the double-entendres. We both liked this clever short.
Mistaken Identity - An Indiana couple on vacation in Washington DC stumbles on a drag queen slapfest at the Gay Pride Festival and are arrested along with several others. Whisked off to jail with a full house of gay characters, they soon find that the differences that separate them can also bring them together. This was cute but a bit like an after-school special.
Hung - Unfortunately you can't judge a short by its title. With the help of a magic potion, five lesbian friends experience having a penis for a single day—sunrise to sunset. The day’s goal is clear, but the means are more difficult to come by as each puts her best foot forward to meet a special someone. This was cute but sort of stupid at the same time.
With What Shall I Wash? In this animated short, a transwoman ends her day reminiscing about her great love and about her life working in a red light district in Spain. I am not a fan of animated films, which would include this one.
Cosa Belle. Love and commitment is put to the test when the beautiful Belle—fed up with the games being played—gives her vivacious lover an ultimatum to win her heart. This film made you wait until the very end to find out why Belle had issue with her girlfriend. The film would have made much more sense if this were disclosed earlier.

El Calentito
Sara, a na├»ve, innocent virgin stumbles upon a wild world of rock and sex in this music-filled romp. She accidentally becomes a singer in an all-girl group at the underground nightclub El Calentito, owned by a sassy transsexual. The venue plays host to some of the hottest up-and-coming musical groups. In the politically conservative climate of the Franco regime, the club has become a safe haven for all forms of sexual expression: gay, bisexual and “try-anything” sexual. On the night of the group's scheduled debut, February 23,1981, an uprising occurs causing the government to collapse and a thrilling night of wild, uninhibited celebrations explodes, leaving the country of Spain in a tizzy. El Calentito is a raucous, high energy comedy that is out, loud and in your face. It’s an effervescent roller coaster ride that will definitely be nostalgic for those of us who fondly remember the 80s.


Drag Queen name of the day: Penny Wise

Election day disappointment

Being the far-left, screaming liberal that I am, you'd think I'd be ecstatic over the Democrat's gaining control of both the House AND the Senate last week. Indeed, this is a reason to be happy. But my happiness about the Democrat's sweep was hugely overshadowed by the passing of the amendment to the VA state constitution, taking away rights from unmarried people.

I was infuriated to hear the election commentators on TV refer to this as the "gay marriage amendment". Hello... gay marriage is and has been illegal in VA for several years now. This amendment was NOT about gay marriage at all - it was about writing discrimination against unmarried people into the state's constitution.

Here is the exact wording of the amendment:
"That only a union between one man and one woman may be a marriage valid in or recognized by this Commonwealth and its political subdivisions.

This Commonwealth and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage. Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage."

If you only read the first sentence/paragraph, it might appear that this amendment was defining (yet again) what the state will and will not recognize as a marriage. But keep on reading. It goes so far as to say that it will not recognize any other legal status that tries to immitate the rights, benefits, or effects of marriage.

Now remember, this is not just about gay people who are already prevented from getting married in VA. The wording says "unmarried individuals". This amendment affects all Virginians who are not married! Shame on you, Virginia!!!

So what does this all mean? Can a Catholic priest (obviously unmarried) not designate someone to whom he isn't married as his life insurance benefactor? Can a divorced woman not will her house to her best male or female friend because they aren't married? Can a gay couple not transfer ownership of jointly-owned property from one partner to the other upon one partner's death? To tell you the truth, I'm just not sure. But I do know this: Single people pay taxes just like married people do, yet we are being discriminated against and restricted simply because we are not married.

Here's what Equality Virginia has to say on its website at www.equalityvirginia.org/site/pp.asp?c=dfIIITMIG&b=253185:
  • It is unnecessary to amend the Virginia Constitution to define civil marriage. State law already defines civil marriage as between a man and a woman. In fact, Virginia law already goes beyond prohibiting civil marriage between same-sex couples, by prohibiting civil unions, domestic partnerships and any “other arrangement” between same-sex couples that purports to bestow the benefits of marriage. Federal law protects Virginia from being forced to recognize marriages celebrated in other states.
  • It would hurt families. The proposed amendment would permanently deny the families of same-sex couples the legal protections and financial stability offered by civil marriage and the lesser benefits that could be achieved through civil unions, domestic partnerships or other forms of legal recognition. By extending the restrictions on relationship recognition to all unmarried couples, gay and straight, the proposal would likely generate litigation like that filed in other states aimed at ending health care coverage for domestic partners and rendering unconstitutional the application of domestic violence laws to unmarried people.
  • It would not affect the religious sacrament of marriage. The Virginia Constitution does not need to be changed to protect the religious sacrament of marriage and should not be amended to incorporate religious definitions of marriage. All religious faiths are already free to define and celebrate marriage in accord with their religious beliefs. No church or religious faith can be compelled by any state law or by any court to recognize any marriage. Nor will it allow the state to prohibit any church or religion from celebrating or recognizing any marriage or union it chooses.
  • Virginia should not discriminate. Sexual orientation is an immutable characteristic. Like race and gender, it is not a lifestyle or choice. Amending the Virginia Constitution to authorize disparate treatment based on sexual orientation is unfair, inappropriate and un-Virginian. Given Virginia's past history of legislated segregation and the prohibition of inter-racial marriages, Virginia legislators and voters should consider carefully how future generations will judge those who vote to write a new category of discrimination into the Virginia Constitution.
  • Most Virginians do not support discrimination against gays and lesbians and a majority support allowing civil unions and other legal recognition of gay relationships. A recent survey of Virginians conducted by a bi-partisan polling team shows that an overwhelming majority of Virginians do not support discrimination based on sexual orientation, and most support civil unions. The proposed amendment would take away from the legislature the ability to change Virginia law to allow recognition of civil unions and other agreements, and leave unelected judges with the sole right and ability to define the benefits, obligations and effects of marriage.

This just makes me so mad I can hardly see straight. If I weren't already planning to move out of the state of VA, I would start planning it now. However, this amendment will continue to affect me even after I move out of the state because Joe & I co-own property in VA that we aren't planning to sell for awhile. Maybe those plans will have to change.

Drag Queen name of the day: Mona Lott

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Prodigal son returns

I chose this title for this entry because I do feel a bit like the Prodigal son who 'left' his blog-home for an indefinite period, returning to it later. The truth of the matter is that I just needed a break.

Now that Joe is living in DE and I am still here in VA, we talk on the phone every night. Sometimes its for 15 or 20 minutes, but other times its 1 or 2 hours, depending on how much we have to share or discuss. All that time on the phone is time not spent adding to this blog.

Another thing that takes up more time now is keeping the house tidy. We want the house to always be in a suitable condition to be shown without notice, so that means making sure the bed is made every single day, that there are no dishes in the sink, that the counters are wiped off, that the floors are swept, that there are no clothes or mail or other person stuff left out. Its like preparing your house for an 'Open House' every day.

Without a conscious decision to do so, I wound up taking a break from blogging. But I've missed it and I've missed my blogger-friends' blogs too. So now I'm going to try to catch up on the highlights of the last month and get back into the swing of things.

The house
We decided that we don't want to continue living apart until sometime next spring, nor do we want to leave this house unoccupied until then, so we asked our VA realtor about the possibility of renting it out. She told us there is a fairly decent demand for family-sized homes for rent in our area due to the CIA, State Dept, DHS, and various military officers who come to DC with their families for a year or two and need a nice place to live. We found out we could rent our house out for more than our mortgage payment and the monthly management fee combined. Renting the house out would make it so Joe & I could live together in DE, our VA house would not be unoccupied, and someone else would be covering the mortgage and paying the utilities while the house continues to appreciate. So two weeks ago today the rent sign went up, the lockbox went on the door, and the listing went into the MLS.

Us
This is week # 7 that Joe & I have been living separately during the week. We email each other during the day, talk on the phone every night, and alternate spending weekends in DE & VA. At first it was harder for Joe and not so hard for me. Then about the 3rd or 4th week it got harder for me and he began to get used to it somewhat. Now I think we're both okay with it, knowing it will be temporary, and that by 'getting through this' now we are keeping from making any financial real estate mistakes. When he comes back to VA we really try to make the most of our weekends. He leaves early on Fri and gets here between 6:00-6:30, so we make plans and meet friends for dinner at 7:00 on Fri. Sat we usually see his mom or his sister during the day and have dinner with other friends Sat night. Sun mornings we have breakfast with Kerry & Hugh, then see either his mother or sister around noon. So we're keeping up with our friends and families pretty well so far.

Jobs
Joe really likes his office, team, and work. He's not quite up-to-speed on the actual work just yet since his boss is giving him assignments little by little. This leaves him with a fair amount of time during the day with nothing particular to do, which makes the days pass slower. But each week gets better and soon he'll be fully functional. He's happy with the pace of life and can really picture this new chapter in our lives living in DE. I can hardly wait to join him! Basically I am just waiting for our house to rent so I can pack and arrange to have our stuff moved out and up to DE. Then I'll begin working from home.

People in public office coming out
The entire Mark Foley sexual harassment of a page/coming out/I was abused debacle just sickens me. As if gay folks don't have enough crap to deal with, now we have a 'famous' person get caught for doing something illegal who has to come out. McGreevey is another one. Why can't these people just come out and be normal, well-adjusted gay people in public office? Why do they have to hide in the closet until they've done something wrong or illegal and THEN have to come out? Makes me really appreciate others with public lives like Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Ethridge, KD Lang, and the guys on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy who are authentic, whole, gay people.

Indian summer and Fall
Here in the DC area we had a wonderful Indian summer. Being the convertible enthusiast that I am, Indian summer is really important to me. I absolutely love the October days when its 70 or so degrees during the day and I have the top down, and then 40 or so at night and you need a heavier blanket on the bed. In recent years it has seemed like we went directly from summer weather in Sept to fall weather in October, but not this year. And now that its November we're getting fewer days when the temperature gets close to 70 (although today it was 68 at 4:30pm) and the leaves turning colors allows nobody to make the mistake of thinking its still Indian summer. Those flaming reds, oranges, golds, and yellows seem to be silently screaming that fall is definitely here. That and daylight savings time.

Film Festival
I can hardly believe that in just one week from tomorrow I will be at the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival! I look forward to it all year long. As before, I purchased a membership to the RB Film Society, with the chief benefit being the ability to purchase all my film tickets for the entire festival on the first day, an hour before the box office opens to the general public. This year's film line up looks great! Even Joe looked through the film catalog and saw several films he wants to see, so unlike last year, we'll be going to see several films together. He'll be off a 1/2 day on Thurs and all day Fri for Veterans Day, which falls during the film festival. I'm simply taking vacation days to attend. Look here for film summaries and highlights after I return from the festival.

Guess that's enough from the Prodigal son for tonight...

Drag Queen name of the day: May Flowers