Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dream Come True

Last Friday evening we had a lovely birthday dinner with Ron, James, Mike & Clark at Layalina's, a Lebanese restaurant. The food was good, the conversation and laughs were even better. It has been several weeks since we'd seen them, so we each took turns giving an 'update'. Joe & I came back to the house to pick up our luggage and our dog Jordan, and headed up to the beach.

Our friends Doug & Jim were already up there. They'd left earlier in the day, stopped for a visit and to leave their dogs at Jim's sister's house, and they spent the rest of the evening in Rehoboth.

Although it was disgustingly humid outside, Joe indulged me by agreeing to ride up to the beach with the top down, since most of the trip is highway or 55 mph zones, there's always moving air to keep you from overheating. Like her two dads, Jordan enjoys the luxury of riding in a convertible with the top down. Perched on her fluffy pillow, she didn't make a peep the entire trip. We arrived at about 11:15, called Doug & Jim to let them know we were there, and unpacked the car.

Doug, Jim, and I had cosmos and chatted until almost 2am. Saturday morning we had coffee and talked some more before going to brunch at the Blue Plate Diner and then to the beach. It was a spectacular day! The temperature was about 83 degrees and the humidity was low and comfortable. The sun was bright and shiny and the breeze was coming off the water, keeping the flies away. After watching the 'scenery' for a while, the four of us went for a walk, then had a cool and refreshing Italian ice.

We headed back to the house, showered and returned to Rehoboth. We went to see Follies 05 at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. It's a skit contest/fundraiser to benefit CAMP Rehoboth and the DE Aids Council. The show was cute and not too long. There was also a short auction and an intermission so everyone could get a cocktail from the bar.

It was a gorgeous night and we walked around Rehoboth a bit before deciding to have dinner at Planet X. Joe & I had eaten dinner there once before, last summer, with a couple of friends. When we go there we were told there might be up to a 30 minute wait, but we knew it would be worth it. We went into the bar for a cocktail and it was so darn hot in there it was intolerable! Joe walked out and said to me on the street "I'm not eating here if that place is an oven." Fortunately it only took about 15 minutes to get a table, and it was outside on the porch. (Thank god - I was not looking forward to an uncomfortable scene if our table was inside where it was hot.) We all enjoyed our meals and cocktails, along with the occasional, delightful breeze.

When we returned to the house we had one last cocktail while we talked, and then hit the sack. Sunday morning we had coffee again and chatted until almost 11am. Doug & Jim were packing to leave, as they had some errands to run that day.

Joe & I had lunch, went to a few stores, then headed back to the house where Joe took a long nap and I read 'Letters from CAMP Rehoboth' on the screened porch. Divine.

We tidied up the house, I went for a quick dip in the pool, and then we packed up the car and left at 6:30, top down and music playing. We got home at 9:00, just in time to watch Six Feet Under.

But on the trip home I began thinking about how lovely the weather was, how happy I was to be riding in my convertible, and how generally fortunate I felt. Then, it just kind of hit me like a ton of bricks.

Fifteen years ago I was an unhappy, closeted gay man trapped in a fundamentalist religion, hiding the 'secret' that I was gay. I was on vacation (alone) and saw a group of gay men at a large round table in a diner. They were talking and laughing and having a good time. One leaned over and kissed his partner on the cheek and the group roared with laughter. When I saw them I thought to myself "If only I could be out of the closet, free to live and laugh with friends. If only I had a partner to love, to live with, to have intimate dinner parties with, to have big holiday parties with, to ride in a convertible with. If only I could be myself."

To be myself - that was my dream back then. Fifteen years later, while driving home from a fun weekend at the beach with my friends and partner in my convertible, it hit me that my dream had come true.

It didn't happen overnight. And my first partner was not my permanent partner. And I drove a 4-door Honda Accord before I got my BMW convertible. And most of all, I said goodbye forever to my fundamentalist family. All of that... before my dream came true. But its all been worth it. I've never been happier - not because my dream finally came true - but because I AM being myself.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Missing Joe

Joe's birthday was yesterday. As is my custom, I sent him flowers to his office. He just loves cut flowers. Only instead of having the flowers delivered on Wednesday, I had them delivered on Tuesday because he decided to take off work Wednesday, today and tomorrow.

Joe's sister Mary and her husband and kids are at the beach in the Outer Banks. His mother and brother Paul and his family are at the beach in Wildwood. Joe really wanted to go to the beach too, but I was unable to take off work this week. I'm just too busy right now.

So Joe decided to drive up to our beach house Tuesday night and then take the ferry Wednesday morning to join his mom and brother (etc) in Wildwood, their childhood vacation destination.

Tuesday night was my first night alone. For a minute or two, I was kind of looking forward to it. No competition for the TV remote. I wouldn't be subjected to the mind-numbing blabbering of those home shopping hostesses who can drone on for hours about a stupid kitchen gadget. I don't know how they do it. Instead I could watch all the decorating and remodeling and renovating and home buying/selling shows I could find! The prospect was more than a little exciting!

But the gods must have been against me for some unknown reason. There wasn't a
d@mn thing to watch on TV. Normally there'd be several decorating shows I'd want to watch on the same night. But that night it seemed like everything was either pre-empted or a repeat.

Wednesday night was the same. I flipped and flipped until I finally wound up watching the parts of "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" that I'd missed some other time I was bored and nothing good was on TV. Not being distracted by fabulous renovations or careful color considerations, I kept thinking about my Joe.

I was sure he was having a good time. He's close to his mother, and his brother and family are very nice and fun folks. I knew they'd spend the day at the beach or the pool, eat delicious and inexpensive food on the boardwalk, and watch the kids play boardwalk games until close to midnight. Eventhough I couldn't go with him, I was glad he would be with his family, having fun on his birthday.

This evening I called him on his cell when I got home from work. I was surprised to hear that he was on the ferry, returning to our beach house. He said it was fun to be there yesterday and today, but that he was ready to say goodbye to his family and head back. They were leaving tomorrow anyway, so he just left the night before them. He's staying at the beach house tonight and will drive home tomorrow, in the daylight. He doesn't like to drive in the dark if he can help it.

So, although I am missing Joe right now, I am excited that he'll be returning home tomorrow. His latest purchase from the home shopping channel arrived today, so he will have a 'gift' waiting for him when he gets home tomorrow.

When will this out-of-control merry-go-round ride end???

Okay, so I can be a little dramatic at times. But this is the first time I have gone over a week without blogging and its all because of this often hectic, usually crazy life of mine. I'm sorry to this blog's readers (both of you) who've been wondering what's up with me.

As I mentioned before, my job is always busy and frequently stressful. The small, independently owned company I used to work for was purchased several months ago by another small company that was bigger than us. You know who won that game. Since then I have been given more and more things to do in what seems like less and less time. I often work right through lunch. Sometimes I run out to grab a quick bite at the absolute best McDonald's in the world. I'm telling you these people know how to run a fast food restaurant! Other times a sympathetic colleague will offer to pick me up some lunch while they're out, as they did yesterday and today.

But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In an email exchange with my new boss, I lamented that I really wanted to be able to contribute to shared goals and projects within their timelines, but that my ever-increasing workload often caused me to struggle to get them submitted just under the wire. This lead to a conversation in which I shared a bulleted summary of my current responsibilities and offered suggestions for transitioning tasks that were not directly related to my job title and description. My new boss agreed with all of my recommendations and at a big manager's meeting submitted the tasks to be transitioned to the directors of the groups who would logically receive the tasks. Those directors agreed that the tasks belonged in their groups, so my plan was approved. I felt both relieved and validated at the same time.

Now comes the hard part: finding the time to be away from my office to train the people who will be receiving the work. They want me to go to Richmond for a week. Yuck. The 'main' office is in Richmond, and unfortunately most of the people who work there are from Richmond, which means they are used to a different culture than me. They send emails without using spell-check. They still wear stirrup pants and big shirts to work. On 'casual Fridays' they wear jeans with a T-shirt that reads "My friend went to Mexico and all I got was this lousy T-shirt". Need I go on? I thought not.

But, in order to accomplish the original task of transitioning the work to them, I must go and be among them. For five f*cking days. (Sigh.) This too shall pass.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Distracted pedestrians

I have been noticing a lot of distracted pedestrians lately. They're cropping up everywhere!

Today as I was driving slowly through the office park to lunch I saw a young man walk out of one of the office condos, looking at his cell phone. Without looking, he walked down the sidewalk, stepped off the curb and began crossing the street, assumably to his car. I had to hit the breaks to keep from running him over. It was only then, when my car was just several feet away from him, that he finally managed to pull himself away from that fascinating cell phone to see that there was a car in the street where it belongs, about to run over him, who was also in the street where he does not belong. Normally I would have waved him on to cross the street. But he just looked at me for a split second, stopped walking and then looked back down at his cell phone again. That cell phone must have had some sort of magical powers, with the ability to completely consume its possessor's attention.

After lunch, on my way back to work I saw this young blonde-haired woman jogging, complete in her matching spandex shorts and sports bra. She also had on headphones, which I assume were connected to a small CD player or iPod. She was almost at the corner as I approached the intersection. Without breaking her stride, she reached the corner and instead of turning left to stay on the sidewalk, she continued straight, right off the curb and into the street. That must be some fantastic music she was listening to! It must have been so good that she couldn't be bothered with checking for traffic before plunging into the street. Only after she was already into the street did she look to her right to see me slowing down in order to not run over her. Once again I was not going fast, so I was able to avoid hitting her. However she didn't wait for me to wave her on. She just charged right out into the road, crossing my lane of traffic, then waited on the median strip until it was safe to cross the other lanes.

Doesn't it seem dangerous to you for a young woman to be jogging:
a) on a busy, 4-lane road at lunchtime,
b) wearing headphones
c) alone?
Wouldn't common sense suggest that one jog on less-traveled residential streets? If a motorist were to try to warn her by blowing their horn, could she even hear it over the pumping and pounding of her music? Have there not been enough women joggers abducted, raped, and killed while jogging alone? What is the price they're willing to pay for fitness?

This brings me to another question that has plagued me for years. Why is it that joggers and bicyclists have to run and ride on busy, major, 4-lane roads where there is the highest chance that they will not be seen and therefore be injured? Why don't they run and ride on 2-lane roads? in neighborhoods? on pedestrian trails? in parks? Why is it that they feel the need to compete with SUVs and minivans on major thoroughfares? You know who's going to win in that situation...

And don't let me even get started on parents with children in restaurants who get so distracted with their conversation that they become completely oblivious to their child's rowdy and inappropriate behavior. God, I sound old.

Friday, July 08, 2005

What did we do?

Thought I'd give you a review of our vacation at the beach.

It was raining lightly and was very humid when we left Tuesday night around 9:30 so we had the top up on the car. However, when we stopped near the Bay Bridge to get a bottle of water (I was dying of thirst) it had stopped raining and the humidity level was not bad, so we put the top down and drove the rest of the way. We arrived a a little after midnight.

Wednesday it rained almost all day, but we had errands to run so we weren't bothered by missing a day at the beach. We went to the grocery store, the most fabulous Dollar store, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Lowes, and the video store. We had dinner at Fish On, a top-notch restaurant in Lewes. It has a tall, open ceiling with exposed ducts, all painted black. Its sleek and has a New York City Bistro feel. Joe had seared scallops with bits of prosciutto and asparagus. I had pasta with cream and wild mushrooms. De-lish! We watched "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" which was cute. Its about an ever-attentive wife who gets dumped by her successful attorney husband, for another woman. The wife gains support and wisdom from her grandmother and rebuilds her life. We also watched "Be Cool", the sequel to "Get Shorty" which I never saw. Be Cool was okay. Travolta and Thurman do have chemistry, but the plot was weak. Two record industry people (Travolta and Thurman) try to launch a professional career for a young, talented singer, while simultaneously outsmarting the 'music industry mafia'. Yeah, you read that right.

Thursday the weather was beautiful so we went to the beach in the Cape Henlopen state park. The breeze was coming from the west (off the land) and brought a bazillion flies with it. Joe got bit many times on his feet, ankles, and shins. For some reason they didn't bite me. Perhaps I didn't have the same beguiling aroma that Joe did. We did use different sunscreen. In the late afternoon Joe took a nap and I went rollerblading in the park. Fun! We had dinner at Celsius in downtown Rehoboth. The walls were textured stucco with floor-to-ceiling murals of Tuscany painted on them. Joe & I both had Key Lime Pie Martinis that came with a fake ice cube with a battery-powered light in it. The martinis glowed! Joe wasn't crazy about the taste so I drank mine and the other half of his. We both had puntanesca. Joe wasn't crazy about it but I liked it enough to take home the left-overs, which I ate for lunch later in the week. After dinner we went for a walk on the boardwalk, then watched "White Noise" which was pretty good. A man finds that he can receive messages from his recently deceased wife in the 'white noise' of a steadily running video camera.

Friday was overcast so we did a little antique-looking. I was surprised how much stuff just sits in those shops. I recognized merchandise I'd seen at least 3 years ago. Joe took a nap and I did a lot of reading, mostly Letters From Camp Rehoboth and the Washington Blade. We watched "My Mother Likes Women", a film that showed in last November's RB Indy Film Festival but I didn't get to see it. A divorced woman introduces her much-younger girlfriend to her adult daughters who are not aware that their mother is a lesbian. We both enjoyed it a lot. Then Kerry, Hugh, Ana, Emely, Javier, and Aaron arrived shortly after midnight.

Saturday was overcast so we all hung out together at the house, talking, laughing, and catching up on things. Around 3pm the sun had come out so we all went to the beach for a few hours. It was beautiful. We ordered cheese steaks from Casapullas and Hugh & I brought them back to the house for dinner. We watched "The Jacket". That movie needed a shot of adrenaline because it took too long to get going. But we enjoyed the concept of the movie. A Gulf war veteran with amnesia is subjected to experimental drug treatment that causes him to slide 15 years into the future. Each time he does, he collects information he wouldn't otherwise know and brings it back to the present.

Sunday the gang headed back to the beach in the park, but were turned away along with many others because the park was at maximum capacity! That's never happened to us before, even on holiday weekends. So we headed over to the community pool in our neighborhood and enjoyed a gorgeous day there. We ordered Grotto pizzas to be delivered for dinner, then the group watched "Pirates of the Caribbean" which I had no desire to watch, so I read for a little while and then fell asleep.

Monday we spent the day at the pool again, thinking the park would probably be packed again. The pool was very nice, and we talked with a few neighbors who are from the Northern Neck of VA where Kerry & Hugh's log house is located. Small world! A friend/co-worker of Kerry's came over with several family members and we had a 4th of July cookout followed by sparklers. After the guests left, the gang watched "The Return of the Pink Panther" which I did not want to watch, so I read and fell asleep again.

Tuesday we had a lazy morning, sitting around talking and playing a movie game until noon. We ate left-overs for lunch and then headed over to the pool again. The plan was to clean up the house, pack and leave at 5pm. But Ana's truck had some mechanical problems which Hugh was able to fix, but delayed our departure until 7:30. We drove home with the top down most of the way, until it looked like it was going to rain.

Despite having just returned from the beach Tuesday night, we are heading back up there in a few minutes. The weather is looking good, and it's summer, so we're heading back to the beach. Our plan is to come home early in the afternoon on Sunday though, so we can get some things done around the house.

I hope everyone had a fun and safe 4th of July.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I'm back...

I'm back from vacation. Might I say that it was well-deserved, too. Work has been (and still is) so hectic and stressful that I truly needed this vacation. I had seven (count 'em) seven days away from work, at the beach.

The weather was mostly good. There was rain one day, and one and a half days where it was cloudy, but we didn't care. It was just great to get away and be near the ocean.

But then came the dreaded part of every vacation: the end. Wednesday I was really, REALLY dreading going in to work. I knew what was waiting for me: the end of the billing period, which when translated into layman's terms means that I not only get to do the two full-time jobs that I already have, but I get to do another part-time job on top of that - supposedly all within the same 8 hour days. But this time I decided that I was going to try to keep my calm, cool, collected, and stress-free mindset despite the chaos and unreasonable demands placed upon me by people who don't know the half of what I do.

But it takes its toll. Yesterday and today I've come home tired; really tired. Yesterday I developed an annoying and painful headache, which is unusual for me. But fortunately I slept well last night.

Maybe in a day or so I'll write more about the vacation, but for now, I'm going to join my husband on the couch for a little mindless TV and then hit the sack.

More later.