Sun.

A couple of weeks ago the groundhog said we had six more weeks until spring. Apparently he looked the wrong way when he was looking for his shadow because Mother Nature has decided to bless us with unusually warm weather this week.

Getting out in the sunshine has been doing wonders for my psyche. I’ve been feeling kind of blah, which is typical for me for this time of year, and being between my two surgeries hasn’t really helped the situation. Luckily my second surgery is a week from Friday and then it’ll be just a few weeks of recovery before things should be normal again.

Stepping out onto the lawn today and not going up to my knees in snow in the latter half of February was very refreshing. I don’t see any signs of dandelions yet, not even the precocious ones, but they can’t be that far away.

Because of the beautiful weather I’m in the mood to look for bright spots and one of them is that as a result of the Trump Administration, we’ll probably be having shorter winters and less snowfall as time goes on. Hopefully I’ll be checked out before the rivers boil.

In the meanwhile I’m just going to enjoy the warmth and sunny skies.

SAD.

I’m starting to really feel the effects of SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Every year I go into the winter determined to not feel the winter blues but sure enough we go with three straight weeks of grey skies and I start to bum out a little bit.

There is some sun today, and I feel a little brighter for it, though it is still 17ºF with a wind chill of 8ºF at the moment. This weekend is suppose to be up around 40 and I find this encouraging.

To help counter the winter blues I occasionally start marching around the United States via Google Maps and look at sunny landscapes of places I’d like to visit or visit again.

In 2003 I drove home from Emmetsburg, Iowa after completing a computer training class in that lovely part of the world. I remember driving across the Iowa-Minnesota border on Route 4 and so I just picked a random spot along that route to gaze at for a few moments. I could almost feel the sun and warm breezes on my face again. The smell of the surrounding farms brought a smile to my face.

Every little bit of something helps.

Anger Management.

God, I miss this show. CBS cancelled it when it was still in the Top 20 as far as ratings go because they wanted to put some other drama that was more dramatic on. The replacement show (I don’t even remember the name of it) tanked after 1 1/2 seasons. Then we moved into the “Two Broke Girls” era where idiocy is hilarious.

Anyway, I stumbled upon this clip from “Judging Amy”. I needed to see it. I wish this show would come back or at the very least, come out on DVD because the message of this excellent show needs to be broadcast far and wide.

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Anger.


A popular meme on the Internet these days goes something like this: “Sally voted for Hillary. Bob voted for Trump. They realize the election is over now and even though they have disagreements when it comes to politics, Sally and Bob agree to be friends. Be like Sally and Bob.” Several of my friends and relatives have shared this meme and I have to say it just makes me angry.

Then, when I go to Facebook (which I still do when I know that I absolutely shouldn’t be there), I see all sorts of whining and complaining about all the political posts that are flying by on the feeds of folks that I’m friends with. They complain that they go to Facebook to see recipes and happy pictures of people and they wish that everyone would stop talking about politics all the time.

I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but the Trump Administration has pretty much been a god damn dumpster fire since his mediocre inauguration. We have Executive Orders coming from the White House like they’re freaking decrees. Rights are being stripped away from Americans left and right. Some friends from high school say it’s the whole “one bad kid ruined it for the whole class” mentality but I don’t know if anyone’s noticed or not but the vast majority of Americans are not in high school. I do not need to be treated like some wainked out teenager who gets spanked because everyone in the room is getting spanked. I am an American and a god damn patriotic American at that. I was fairly attentive in my social studies classes when I was a kid. I read. I research. I watch the news. I even listen to folks that have a different political viewpoint from mine if they are able to support their beliefs, just like I support mine. But anyone that rolls over and puts up with the horse crap that is coming out of Washington D.C. should be ashamed of themselves.

My beliefs of what this country should be are very simple. The populace should be working hard, contributing more to society than it takes, leaving the world better than we found it and doing good things for themselves and other people regardless of skin color, race, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or whatever other label you want to slap on someone. I don’t have to pray to your God and you don’t have to pray to mine because quite frankly, as an American it’s none of my business whom you pray to. If you want me to read your Bible, don’t start out by beating me over the head with it every chance you get. Just because I believe that a woman has the right to do as she wishes with her own body doesn’t mean that I want women getting abortions at Wal*mart (Always White Trash, Always). I happen to believe that abortion is the wrong answer to the question 99.5% of the time but you know what, I don’t have a vagina, I don’t plan on getting a vagina and therefore I should have absolutely NO say as to what a woman can or can’t do with her body. If we want to outlaw something let’s start with face or neck tattoos or something, but that’s a rant for another day.

I’m not only angry about people telling me that I shouldn’t discuss politics, I’m angry that people are telling me to get over it. I’m not getting over it. Ever. I’ve had to listen to that cantankerous old stupid man Mitch McConnell contort politics six ways from Sunday to do everything he can to make President Obama’s term as short and miserable as possible and now I’m suppose to be happy that a man with fake hair, a fake tan and completely without a clue is sitting in the big chair in D.C. Give me a break. When we have a failed reality star who has done everything he can to make himself important in Hollywood since he was big enough to throw his junk around women become president it’s obvious that this country is a raging dumpster fire that’s about one and a half steps away from a completely meltdown to an “Idiocracy” scenario.

And don’t even get me started about any relatives who voted for Trump thinking that I’m going to be happy and cordial at the next family reunion. “But I didn’t agree with Hillary!”  Wonderful. I’m happy that you’re offended by pant suits and that you made the bold choice to vote for a man who was supported by the KKK, is intent on taking away any right I have as a gay man away from me as quickly as possible and has loaded up his Administration with every white, rich, swamp dweller one can name. Draining the swamp? Get the hell away from me with that BS. The swamp is overflowing with raw sewage but Benghazi and an email server. Shall we discuss all the Administration officials using a private email server? No, because they’re not Hillary. Hillary stood by her man. Any woman that voted against Hillary because she supported Bill during the Monica scandal is a woman that would rather have a man make decisions for her. 

On Tuesday night we had some sort of public spectacle to announce Trump’s pick for the vacant Supreme Court position. The position has been open for a year but because Obama was black he wasn’t allowed to get any traction with his nomination because, well, you know, these things take time. So instead we were stuck with an American Idol-type fiasco from the Orange Cheeto making grand gestures to tell us that he’s nominating a man that started a “Fascism Forever Club” in high school. That should be a hoot and half. 

Crimminy.

Look it, I’m an American. I am a 48 year old, married, white, gay American male. I take my hat off when I hear the Star Spangled Banner. I like to believe that the United States of America is land of the free and the home of the brave, but if we continue to be completely stupid and make stupid choices and bury our head in the sand, there ain’t gonna be a country to be proud of for much longer.

Get your heads out of your ass, America, stop telling me to be all Pollyanna over something that is nothing more than a travesty waiting to go nuclear and for the love of God, get a friggin’ clue.

Burnout.

I follow a lot of aviators on Twitter. I follow musicians, I follow fellow bloggers, I follow friends both from real life and those I’ve met online. I follow politically minded people.

This morning I decided that I needed to shut down Twitter for a few hours.

I noticed that I’ve been checking Twitter upon waking each morning to see if there’s been some sort of global catastrophe, because my spidey sense is worried about what looms on the horizon and let’s face it, the country has been a bit of a dumpster fire since the Inauguration.

My Twitter feed has been all about politics. Well, that’s an exaggeration. My feed has been about 98% politics. My tweets have followed the same ratio. My handful of followers know how I feel on any given subject.

Today I just had to step away from it all for a little while and just practice some breathing exercise to get my head back to center.

The reboot helped. I no longer feel overwhelmed and I feel ready to continue the quest to do my part to make the United States the best it can be.

Onward and onward. Now if we could just do something about the dumpster fire.

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Surgery, Part 1.

I am having surgery today. This surgery is part of the saga that has been going on for most of my life, and the subject matter might make some readers uncomfortable. I share these things so that others that share my issues may read about my experiences. I will not be offended if you do not complete this blog entry.

For some reason, many doctors suspect that it was because I might have rammed my parts into my bike when I was young kid, I have scar tissue that likes to grow in my urethra. This is not hugely uncommon among men; the scar tissue is called a stricture and it makes it difficult to urinate. Don’t worry, everything else is functional and I’m happy in the sex department.

I have had four surgeries to remove the scar tissue to open things back up. They started back when I was 13 years old so, with surgery in 1982, 1986, 2005 and 2015. Since the last surgery in 2015 I have used a catheter on a daily basis to keep things open. In the back of my mind I knew it was a stop gap measure and there have been times that I’ve had to use the catheter two or three times a day to keep things feeling and working the way they should. Shortly before Christmas the catheter went the wrong way, I had a lot of blood come out and then scar tissue started filling in the gap again.

In the 2015 entry I mention that there is another procedure that they can do that should correct the problem permanently. This involves taking some skin from the inside of my mouth and grafting it where the scar tissue is in my urethra, thus completely eliminating the scar tissue instead of just cutting it back and hoping that it doesn’t come back. My urologist wanted to do this procedure the last time but it was summer time and I wasn’t in the mood to be down for the count for 10 weeks or so during the summer, so I opted out. It wasn’t a mistake, but it ultimately just delayed the inevitable.

So this morning I am having what is called a Supra-pubic catheter put in so things can “calm down” in my urethra. This catheter will be a small tube between my belly button and my junk. I figure if folks fighting cancer can have ports installed to go through chemotherapy, I can run around with a pee tube for five weeks. So after today and through March if we talk face to face, I could be peeing in your presence and you wouldn’t even know it.

In March, if all goes to plan, I will be having the second surgery, where they’ll do the skin graft thing and rebuild the parts that are currently damaged. I will then have two catheters for a few weeks, a traditional one that makes some men shutter and the other pee tube that I’m getting today, the latter being the backup plan if something goes wrong after the reconstructive surgery.

When all is said and done, I should be as good as new. I should be able to pee across a football field and if I don’t have one of those handy, at the very least blow toilets off the wall like a superhero but without the laser beams.

The success rate of this type of procedure is 90%-95% for long-term success and as all the medical information I’ve read on the Internet says, “should be considered the gold standard as a solution for this type of problem.” The previous surgeries have a very low long term success rate so it’s comforting to know that my body is behaving just as doctors expect.

I’m apprehensive about the length of time for the procedures and the recovery; when all is said and done it’ll be like 11 weeks of prep and recovery time. But, other than a couple of weeks after the reconstruction part in March, I should be able to carry on just as I do today, albeit with just a little extra hardware. I did it before in 2015 and I can do it again in 2017.

I’m looking forward to not living with this issue anymore; all my life when I’ve had to go the bathroom I’ve had to say a little prayer, “please let everything work”.

From now on I know that everything should just work.

Mary.

In November 2013 I took a solo trip to Minneapolis because I had never been there and it was a non-stop flight from Syracuse on Delta. It was the first time I ever sat in First Class.

I planned on just exploring the city and picked out a reasonably priced hotel downtown. Much of downtown Minneapolis is connected by the Skywalk, which allows one to walk from building to build throughout the downtown area without ever going outside. When I left the hotel on my first exploration of the Skywalk, I suddenly realized that I was staying adjacent to the IDS Center, which was the location of many shots from the opening to The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I found the escalator that Mary had used.

I had to take my own photo.

Then I looked up and saw the restaurant where Mary and her then husband Grant Tinker are having lunch in the opening credits.

I ate lunch in the “Mary Tyler Moore booth” that day.

I was absolutely delighted to find this piece of Americana while visiting Minneapolis. That trip was life changing for me, for it was during that trip that I decided that it was time to become a private pilot.

Mary Tyler Moore passed away at age 80 today. I’ve always enjoyed her show and hearing the theme song and seeing clips from the show has made me smile today.

Love is all around. Thanks for the smiles, Mary. RIP.

Repost: Resolution Revolution.

The following is a blog entry written 15 years ago, 12/29/01. I find it amusing to go back and read my old blog entries from time to time. I guess I haven’t changed much.

Resolution Revolution.

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s time to completely revamp one’s life with what I call the Resolution Revolution. I tend to take New Year’s Resolutions very seriously. With the dropping of the ball and the birth of a new year, its the best time to take a new lease on life, slip into the body that I’ve always dreamed about, clear my skin, become more spiritually focused, get involved in civic affairs, become a cook, a gardener, a sky-diver, a nuclear physist, the list goes on and on.

But seriously, I do have hopes of improving my life and well-being around the New Year’s holiday. The holiday holds so much promise.

Last year, one of my major New Year’s resolutions was to become a full-time vegetarian. I had been dinking around with being a part-time vegetarian for a couple of months beforehand, mostly when it was convenient, but I told myself I needed to become dedicated to the cause. If it had the ability to take a dump, I wasn’t going to eat it. That lasted until we went out west for vacation and I discovered “Sonic” and “In and Out” burger. So much for that.

Another resolution I made last year was to not spend unnecessary money. In celebration of this event, I went crazy on ebay and purchased a cash register system from a defunct department store. I guess I needed a place to store all the money I was saving.

One of my better resolutions of last year was to learn to speak French. I did the whole CD tutorial thing, along with “French for Dummies”. Earl and I headed up to Montréal for a weekend, the perfect opportunity to test out my French. Trying to be friendly, I tried to strike up a conversation with a nice older woman in the mall. Since it was July, I simply said “Boy, it’s hot”. After she slugged me with her purse I realized that I had said, “I’m in heat.” So much for French.

The first resolution of this year is the only one I am going to share. I’m not sharing my resolutions with anyone. After years of making promises to myself, and announcing them loudly to everyone within a 50 mile radius of my mouth, people tend to not take me seriously anymore. But after my Resolution Revolution of 2002, suffice it to say that I’m going to be rich, famous, a contributing member of society and absolutely gorgeous to look at. At least until January 15.

Image.

Somewhere in the “Operating Instructions for the American Gay Adult”, there’s probably a section on age 48 and how you should be comfortable with yourself way before then and therefore be doing something worthwhile like leading UNICEF drives or bringing bags of Mighty Taco to starving children in Zuzumbia as Madonna shops for her children. These are all very worthy causes and during this past year I have remarked to Earl on several occasions that I need to contribute more to the world. I’ve also suggested several times that we go to Mighty Taco but we’d most likely eat it before delivering it.

Here’s the thing, the problem is that I just sort of skimmed “Operating Instructions for the American Gay Adult” and I’m still working on that self-image and self-confidence part. I’ve put myself through several batteries of tests. I know that I’m an INFJ. I know that on a scale of 1 to 50 I’m a solid 39 (I’ll let the reader figure out what that scale is for). I’ve checked my IQ on both long and short tests, from Facebook quizzes to Mensa exams to sitting down and actually taking a real test in a real IQ testing setting and it’s a surprisingly good number. People tell me I’m a warm, sensitive guy that just lacks a dollop of confidence. The truth of the matter is that I’m the nachos without a dollop of Daisy on top. I have some zest, I have some spice, I’m crunchy and inviting but my lettuce is a little wilted.

The thing is that I have a really good memory. I might ask Earl the same question three times in the span of five minutes but by god I can tell you that sales tax was department 94 at Westons Department Store back in 1975. I have a very-accurate catalog of every insult, off-handed remark and snide comment that has been hurled in my direction over the last 48 years and every once in a while my internal Viewmaster likes to click through those little nuggets and relive things that have made me feel bad. I have no idea why I do this, I’d rather watch my old “Electrawoman and DynaGirl” Viewmaster slides but they’re long gone. I don’t remember where they are.

“I can’t be seen at the mall with you because you’re too flamey”. A chestnut from my first boyfriend in 1987.
“You could be cute if you tried”. A little nugget of wisdom from the end of my first gay date ever when I was in college in 1986. I never accurately concluded if I was a charity case or not.
“I don’t want to play with him because he’s just too weird”. Whining in 1979 from a sixth grade classmate who had some nifty electronic game that everyone else got to play but I couldn’t because in all actuality I was wicked good at it and she didn’t like being pushed from her perch from the weird boy.

Add these little excerpts of gray matter belches to the fact that my 48 year old body is starting to need some new parts, has a couple of decades of extra pounds and the intermittent but persistent stream of Internet comments such as, “You had such a great beard, why don’t you grow some facial hair again?”, and my warm, sensitive self with a wicked good memory starts to question its image in the world.

The fact of the matter is that it’s all hooey. All of it. The comments, the creaks and groans from my body, the replacement parts, all of it is just a bunch of hooey with big spitting motions. I’m better than this. I’m better than that. My rational mind knows this. And it’s time to start listening to the rational mind.

In 2017 I have just one resolution. One goal. And that is, to feel like *I* am worthy of a slow-motion entrance.

I want to make an entrance, comfortable in my clothes, determined in my walk, confident in myself. I want to drop the shlep. Yes, I need to get some parts fixed up on this old bod. I will shed some pounds (again!). And, as my loving family reminds me, I will just embrace who I am and just go with it. Yep, I’m eccentric. I can easily turn that weirdness I’m known for into a big bucket of zany (I originally typed “weirdness into zaniness” but I don’t know if ‘zaniness’ is a word. It looks like a New Age name to me.) I have lots of digits and letters that work in my favor and it’s time to start using them as powers for good.

I’m not going to be fine. I’m going to be awesome. Friggin’ awesome.

Sharing the details of this goal would be over demonstrative and there’s already too much over demonstrativeness in the world. I’m worthy of attention but not of pity. I have lists with dates but I’ll keep them to myself. This is a personal journey for 2017.

I will, however, share the video of my Slow Motion Entrance when I feel I’m ready for it. Getting ready for my Close-Up.

Wicked.

I was volleying instant messages back and forth with a colleague at work today when she asked if I worked in New England. I replied to the negative and told her that I was sitting in Central New York, more specifically to the east of Syracuse. She then commented on something on I had said earlier in the conversation which made her think I was a New Englander. I had written, “oh, he’s wicked smart about those things.”

Yes, I use “wicked” as an intensifier. “He was wicked mad about being short changed.” “The bar was wicked busy tonight.” “Wow, that meal was wicked good.”

I’ve said wicked for as long as I can remember. At first I was thinking that I picked the habit up when I lived in eastern Mass in the late 1980s (I can say ‘Worcester’ like a native without even thinking about it) but then I remembered having a conversation with my sister and her friend Tammy when they were in junior high school about the use of the word wicked. Apparently Tammy had used the word wicked in an essay or something and her English teacher didn’t like the use of the word in her prose.

What a wicked mean thing to do.

Since I can remember the conversation about use of the word wicked from my high school years, it must have been part of my vocabulary for longer than I originally thought. Now, as I try to fall asleep (I’m actually wicked tired tonight), I’m trying to recall if my cousins used the word in the same way. I’m pretty sure that my city cousins didn’t, but I’m not sure about the country cousins. I remember high school friends at our lunch table using the word wicked a lot, perhaps it migrated from New England to our area in the 1980s or something.

Whatever the reason, the word has remained in my vocabulary for the last 30 years or so. Its use has been a wicked good time.