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We Are Stardust, We Are Golden

If you have not yet read the previous post below, please do so before you peruse the following.

I would like to thank everyone so much for the very touching comments of support. This was an exciting weekend for Rob and me and Goblin. Something that we would have never thought could happen just a few months ago came off without a hitch. (Or with a hitch, come to think of it.)

On Friday, along with my brother Mike and friends Faustus and Richard, we drove to a Catskills resort called the Emerson Lodge, where we had reserved a suite of rooms that appeared to have been decorated by chipmunks with a fetish for bears. It was actually quite comfortable, although the air in the room smelled like sweat socks and the water smelled like smoky bleach . . . but who could notice such things on the eve of his marriage?

Early Saturday, we piled into our cars and drove to the New Paltz bed and breakfast where the wedding was to be held. Rob and I shared our special day with fourteen other same-sex couples, many of whom had children or had been together for many years and already considered themselves married. It was incredibly moving to witness these families being made official, and there was boisterous support from the crowd. The ceremonies were each just a few minutes long, but the day was so hot and humid that Rob’s and my relationship was almost joined by our melting into a common puddle, rather than through any legal solemnization.

When our turn finally came (we were ninth), we walked down the aisle accompanied by flute music and a wildly panting Boston terrier. Our ceremony, presided over by a Unitarian Universalist minister who was arrested earlier this year for performing same-sex ceremonies (the charges were dismissed by the judge), was quiet and intensely personal. I don’t remember a word of it, I was so happy and so nervous; it’s a good thing we were provided with a transcript beforehand. I remember staring at Rob and having Goblin look on proudly as her daddies were married. I remember smiling like a goon. I remember enthusiastic applause as we walked back to our seats. I remember cranking up the air conditioning to full blast when we got back to the car.

That night, once we were alone, Rob and I drove to Woodstock and wandered the streets in that beautiful village of free spirits. Following in the footsteps of newlyweds everywhere, we attended the Gypsy Psyhic Fair, where I had my cards read by a man carrying a Macintosh Powerbook, and Rob learned his fortune from a man wearing fairy wings. Later, during dinner, a series of explosions brought us out to the sidewalk, where a full-fledged fireworks show was underway in the sky above.

Many of the other diners and staff of the restaurant joined us outside. “I’m thirty years old,” I heard a waitress tell someone. “I’m a painter. I’m just going to go for it.”

Go for it.

Rob and I put our arms around each other. The twinkling fire from above reflected in our new wedding bands.

Anything seemed possible.

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The Year Everything Changes, Part Two

New Paltz, New York, 28 August 2004

“Welcome to this wonderful day. Will you take each other’s hand as you say your vows?

“David, do you take Rob as your marriage partner?”

“I do.”

“Rob, do you take David as your marriage partner?”

“I do.”

“Will you each love the other, honor him, comfort and respect him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, and will you be true to him as long as you both shall live?”

“I will.”

“I will.”

“With this ring, I thee wed.”

“With this ring, I thee wed.”

“Out of this tangled world, your two souls have come together, drawn by mutual love and respect. By your free choice, you have made a marriage. As all here wish for you a full life, a life rich in meanings and sharing, in caring and in joy, it is my joy to witness this marriage.

“For as much as you have committed yourselves to one another by the vows you have made and by the rings you have exchanged, therefore, in the name of Love and Justice, by the power vested in me by the State of New York, I now declare that you two are one, life partners, legally married to each other.

“May no one tear asunder those whom love has joined together.

“Will you greet each other with a kiss?”

And we did.

 

From a letter from the ACLU to the New Paltz Equality Initiative

“The usual way to get married in New York State is first to get a marriage license from a town or country clerk and then to have the marriage ‘solemnized’ by a mayor, judge, or member of the clergy who leads the couple through their vows. No town or county clerk in New York will presently issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple, however, so same-sex couples cannot follow the usual route.

“Even though you cannot get a marriage license, a solemnized wedding is still recognized under New York law. In several cases, where straight couples had their marriages solemnized but did not have marriage licenses, the courts ruled that the marriages were still valid. The same would be true in your case-if the underlying marriage is valid, the lack of a marriage license is irrelevant.”

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This Is 2 Clues in 1

“Engraving is one of the oldest and most beautiful processes for reproducing images on paper. The appeal of engraving lies in the exquisite detail created by its three-dimensional impression. Engraving is produced when the copy is etched in reverse into a copper plate. Ink is deposited in the resulting cavity. The engraving press then forces the paper in to the cavity, creating a raised impression. The paper is literally raised with the ink adhering to the raised surface. The fact that the paper is raised is what distinguishes engraving from thermography and flat-printing.”

— From Crane’s Blue Book of Stationery, edited by Steven L. Feinberg

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A Potpourri of Yesterdayness

Yesterday, I bought potpourri for the first time ever, and Rob cooked dinner for my parents and grandfather.
I also received this poem from Crash, who, amused by some nitwit’s comment about my nonexistent “Byronic locks,” tried to envision what I would have written had I been Lord Byron himself:

She Walks on Four Legs
She walks on four legs, not upright
Which for a dog would be unwise;
And both the colors, black and white
Meet on her face around her eyes:
That countenence inspires fright
When sleepy squirrels she doth surprise.

I also received this photo from Wayne, entitled “Gobby”:

Also, Goblin tried to eat the potpourri.

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Quoted Just Because

“I bet you don’t have to be Spanish to be the Spanish Inquisition,” said Adam. “I bet it’s like Scottish eggs or American hamburgers. It just has to look Spanish. We’ve just got to make it look Spanish. Then everyone would know it’s the Spanish Inquisition.”

There was silence.

It was broken by the crackling of one of the empty crisp packets that accumulated wherever Brian was sitting. They looked at him.

“I’ve got a bullfight poster with my name on it,” said Brian slowly.

* * *

Lunchtime came and went. The new Spanish Inquisition reconvened.

The Head Inquisitor inspected it critically.

“What’re those?” he demanded.

“You click them together when you dance,” said Wensleydale, a shade defensively. “My aunt brought them back from Spain years ago. They’re called maracas, I think. They’ve got a picture of a Spanish dancer on them, look.”

“What she dancing with a bull for?” said Adam.

“That’s to show it’s Spanish,” said Wensleydale. Adam let it pass.

The bullfight poster was everything Brian had promised.

Pepper had something rather like a gravy boat made out of raffia.

“It’s for putting wine in,” she said defiantly. “My mother brought it back from Spain.”

“It hasn’t got a bull on it,” said Adam severely.

“It doesn’t have to,” Pepper countered, moving just ever so slightly into a fighting stance.

Adam hesitated. His sister Sarah and her boyfriend had also been to Spain. Sarah had returned with a very large purple toy donkey which, while definitely Spanish, did not come up to what Adam instinctively felt should be the tone of the Spanish Inquisition. The boyfriend, on the other hand, had brought back a very ornate sword which, despite its tendency to bend when picked up and go blunt when asked to cut paper, proclaimed itself to be made of Toledo steel. Adam had spent an instructive half-hour with the encyclopedia and felt that this was just what the Inquisition needed. Subtle hints had not worked, however.

In the end Adam had taken a bunch of onions from the kitchen. They might well have been Spanish. But even Adam had to concede that, as décor for the Inquisitorial premises, they lacked that certain something. He was in no position to argue too vehemently about raffia wine holders.

“Very good,” he said.

“You’re certain they’re Spanish onions?” said Pepper, relaxing.

“ ‘Course,” said Adam. “Spanish onions. Everyone knows that.”

“They could be French,” said Pepper doggedly. “France is famous for its onions.”

—From Good Omens, by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.

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What I’m Drinking

Strawberries, cherries, and an angel’s kiss in spring: my summer wine is really made from all these things. Take off your silver spurs, and help me pass the time . . . and I will give to you summer wine. Oooh, oooh summer wine.

Maybe I am a hippie.

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The Truth Shall Not Set You Free

On our nighttime walks, Rob holds Goblin’s leash, and I hold the poop bag and a large, powerful flashlight. Last night, a man walked up to us and said, “Why do you carry that flashlight?”

It didn’t occur to me to say anything other than the truth: “To hit people with if they bother me.”

He continued to bother me anyway.

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Faith Jonesing

A good friend of mine has a bee in his bonnet about faith, what it is and what it isn’t. Mostly what it isn’t. It isn’t rational. It isn’t based on facts or anything demonstrably true. Not, he concedes, that matters of faith are wrong, simply that they can’t be proven. If they could, they wouldn’t, by definition, be faith.

I’m going to write this as if I have faith in something, as if I believe in god. I do, actually, believe in something that might as well be called god. Wayne Dyer, in his latest book, calls it intention (although a better word for his thesis would be potential), but even this is too anthropomorphized for my logical mind. My beliefs are physical and metaphysical, based upon the patterns and conservation of energy, the fluidity of space and time, the overlapping of moments and dimensions. I believe in destiny as an expression of points on a timeline and in free will as a navigator of dimensional branches and alternative realities. I believe in the soul as the energy that keeps our awareness and personae intact as we exercise that will, that animates us like light through a film reel as we flip between the milliseconds of our existence. I believe that time is an illusion, that every instant from the big bang to the heat death of the universe exists simultaneously, and that one single soul (or Soul, if you prefer) reincarnates itself billions, trillions, countless numbers of times, into every human, alien, dog, and dolphin that exists, ever existed, and ever will exist, to experience every possible aspect of life and of itself . . . and if you took the soul of every human, alien, dog, and dolphin that exists, ever existed, and ever will exist and joined them together, you would have something approaching the “mind of god.”

But that’s just me.

What I have no faith in is the Christian bible, which is so biased, inconsistent, oddly compiled, and badly translated that you could equally well center a religion on my ninth-grade Spanish homework. Most of my hostility for the bible comes from its politicization throughout world history, but especially today in the United States. (Politicization of anything almost always arises from fear, hatred, insecurity, and mistrust; indeed, these motivations are the underpinnings of both modern evangelical Christianity and the Republican Party, which is presumably why these groups are natural bedfellows.)

At the center of the furor is the insistence of certain individuals and groups of accepting the bible as literal truth and selectively prosecuting ancient Hebrew health code violations, while ignoring the central messages of love and acceptance found in the new testament. According to the bible, the “sin” Jesus preached against most often was hypocrisy, although this fact is ironically lost on the hypocrites who use his legacy to hurt, divide, oppress, and control the behavior of other people. (Some might find it shocking that Jesus never made a reference to homosexuality or the right to bear arms.) Those who read the bible in the context of history know that Jesus, if he existed at all, was a radical, revolutionary, liberal activist who spoke against the codification of harsh religious laws into civil laws. This is what got him murdered two thousand years ago, and this is what would certainly get him murdered today by those who profess to be his biggest fans.

Resultant from the perversion of Christ’s values by what often appears to be the majority of today’s Christians is the understandable dread and even horror any mention of Jesus or biblical reference brings out in normal, thoughtful people. I have lately been attending Quaker Meetings. Quakers are Christians, but they are so rational and unassuming that I have largely been able to fool myself into thinking they aren’t. There are no Quaker sermons and no religious hierarchy; their meetings consist almost entirely of silent meditation (time I use to reflect on my ideas of god, on being thankful for the good fortune in my life, and on how I can be a better person who makes the world a better place). Every time a Quaker mentions Jesus, I almost jump out of my skin. When a Friend, who is gay, started reading from the bible last week, I felt so oppressed that my head nearly exploded. And yet, it was a message of love and hope, as all Jesus’ messages are. Even viewing the bible as an incomplete historical document or as a work of literature with an odd narrative flow—that is, even if you don’t view it as literal or demonstrable truth—that much is unmistakable.

If Jesus existed, which is by no means certain, then we are all Jesus, because we are all god. We are all Buddha, Mohammed, and Abraham. We are all Hitler. We are all George W. Bush. We are all Madam Curie. We are all Matthew Shepard, who was crucified several years ago in Wyoming for being gay.

That’s what I have faith in. I can’t prove it, but I don’t have to.

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Events of the Day

News: Several Gnats Fly Inside Baltimore Rowhome
Fox News: House Invaded by Swarms of Traitorous Liberal Disease-Carrying Insects

News: David Drives His Mother to Virginia to Shop for Furniture
Fox News: Known Homosexual Crosses State Line: Agenda in Question

News: Goblin Goes on Morning Walk, Sights Squirrel
Fox News: Terrier Terrorist Cases Peaceful American Neighborhood

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Crazy Does as Crazy Is

Late last night, Rob and Goblin and I locked ourselves out of the house. It was time for Goblin’s walk, and I was up in the bathroom contemplating the box fan Rob insists upon keeping near the shower (which will someday electrocute one or both of us in a “Six Feet Under” prologue moment), and Rob and Goblin were downstairs waiting impatiently by the front door. Under extreme pressure, I dashed down the stairs and out the door and forgot my keys and glasses and mobile phone. I blame Rob. And the fan.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

We ended up traversing the neighborhood to Cara’s apartment. Cara still has the key she used when dog-sitting Goblin Foo and was thoughtfully still awake and answering the door after midnight, although she was afraid it was the same crazy person who had rung the bell earlier in the night. I suppose Rob and Goblin and I were different crazy people.

Now that I think of it, considering this is Baltimore, and considering my luck, it’s a wonder that crazy people don’t come to my door with any regularity. But they’re out there, lurking in the shrubbery, waiting for opportunities to pounce.

Yesterday, several hours before we became locked out, Rob and I did hill sprints. That is, we found a hill and ran up it at top speed, walked back down, ran up again, walked back down, ran up again, almost died, and walked home.
That’s not at all crazy.

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Paradox

From what I understand, “Schrodinger’s Cat” refers to a thought experiment in which, the actual reality being unobserved, two alternative realities are held to be true at once. In the case of the unfortunate cat, the alternative realities are that it is alive and dead at the same time. Only by opening the box to observe the state of the cat is the paradox resolved.

Last night, I got up at some ungodly hour to go to the bathroom. (I had suspected this might happen because I had to go to the bathroom before I fell asleep and was too tired to move.) Without my glasses, I couldn’t see the clock across the room. Reality being unobserved, I decided it was all times at once; having successfully broken free of the space-time continuum, I glided down the hall to take care of business.

In the bathroom, there was a box fan in the shower stall, blowing full blast. Rob’s latest obsession is drying out the shower when he’s done with it, a preoccupation I cannot fully support. Once I observed people making fun of a woman in church because she was praying with her hands up in the air. This struck me as illogical. If you’re going to pray with your hands in the air, church is the place to do it. More so than, say, Burger King. Likewise, if a place is going to be wet, it might as well be the shower stall.

“Ask no questions” . . . that’s the motto for dealing with Rob. I turned the fan off, however. The shower was as dry as a bone.

On the way back to bed, I noticed it was four-fifteen. The paradox was resolved.

I have a mosquito bite on my back.

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Flush with Success

All right, here’s the poop: after a couple of plumbing disasters in our new house, Rob and I were advised not to flush anything but single-ply toilet paper. As the words left the plumber’s mouth, it seemed like a fate worse than death. How could we survive without toilet paper as thick as a duvet, constructed with quilted ridges and impregnated with vitamin E, aloe, and a magic ointment from the Fountain of Youth for all I know? This was coming dangerously close to trampling on our divine rights as Americans, and I expected our president, strong leader that he is, to launch an air strike within days.

Why does our plumbing hate America?

But then we bought the accursed single-ply toilet paper and got used to it in a matter of days (just as I have gotten used to skim milk and unsweetened peanut butter). Now, anything thicker (or with more fat, or with more sugar) seems ridiculously unwarranted.

Sadly, this only goes so far. I tried to sacrifice my designer shirts for bargain garb from Wal-Mart, but my epidermis disintegrates upon contact with ugly and unnatural fibers.

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There but for the Grace of God . . .

Here’s what I want to know: when you step on the moving walkway at the airport, why does it immediately start intoning, “The moving walkway is about to end . . . please watch your step”? That’s like having a voice out of nowhere advise, before you take your first bite of a candy bar, “You’re about to finish the candy bar. Please chew thoroughly.” Why is there a moving walkway there anyway? It’s only forty feet long. If I am going to invest in a moving walkway, I want it to be worth my while. I want to step on that walkway at Baltimore-Washington International and step off in Auckland, New Zealand.

Last night, I went to the airport to pick up my friend Tiffany, who was on an overnight stopover from Seattle to Paris. The last leg of her flight was from Phoenix. As I waited in the terminal, a man with darting, bulging eyes, wild grey hair, and hideous blue sneakers announced for all to hear that his girlfriend was coming from Phoenix, and he couldn’t remember if she was on Southwest or America West. Tiffany was on America West, but I didn’t volunteer this information because he didn’t ask me directly and because I felt that any assistance would be indirectly rewarding his choice of footwear. As he was incapable of deciphering the “Arrivials” display, he assaulted every traveler exiting the security checkpoint with the frantic question, “Did your flight come through Phoenix?”

Those who didn’t jump away from him in terror answered him with a startled negative. This was not surprising considering—as the “Arrivals” board clearly indicated—that the plane from Phoenix was not due to arrive for ten minutes. I observed in fascination as he worked himself into a mouth-foaming frenzy over the next half hour and tried to imagine the woman he was meeting. Was she some sort of goddess, from whom every moment away was sheer torture? Was she a dominatrix who would torture him if he missed her? Had he ever even met her before? Maybe she was his Internet girlfriend, who had conveniently forgotten to mention that she was a forty-nine-year-old man named Hank.

She turned out to be a perfectly innocuous hippie girl a third his age, who was apparently blessed with the supernatural gift of finding something worthwhile in that fretful mess.

You know, it’s really one of my goals to be kinder and less judgmental, but it would make my life a lot easier if people met me halfway and stopped being so ridiculous.


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We Need Dumbledore

I am rereading the Harry Potter books, which I highly recommend. Harry Potter contains something for everyone. The most recent book, for example, contains a government organization that clamps down on individual freedoms, runs a smear campaign against brave souls who question the party line, manipulates the mass media, and destroys the educational system . . . all to preserve its own power.

You would think that George W. Bush would have enough to do without turning up in children’s novels, as well.

Incidentally, just in time for the elections, history is repeating itself. In the same way the trumped-up charges against Iraq began worming their way into the public consciousness three years ago, trumped-up charges against Iran are beginning to appear now.

As our National Embarrassment said: “There’s an old saying in Tennessee—I know it’s in Texas, it’s probably in Tennessee—that says, fool me once, shame on … shame on you. It fool me. We can’t get fooled again.”

It is to be hoped that we, as a country, are not stupid enough to be fooled twice.

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What Happens in Baltimore Stays in Baltimore

What internationally renowned Boston terrier celebrated her fourth birthday last night with a star-studded gathering?

What up-and-coming young blogger consummated her Sapphic relationship with said Boston terrier and announced, numerous times, in a whimsical, slurred voice, “I am a ridiculous person”? (And was this the same up-and-coming young blogger who announced in the car, “Well, if we’re already halfway home, we’re all the way home in spirit”? Yes, it was.)

What slightly calmer and more composed blogger exited furtively with a bag of stolen hotel toiletries under her dainty arm?

What awesome lesbian couple produced a stuffed squirrel for the birthday girl? (A squirrel stuffed with stolen rubies!)

What jwerk said he would attend the gathering and then, to the utter horror of Miss Manners, did not?

What skittish basset hound pooped on my bedroom rug when he thought no one was looking? (No one was.)

What, indeed?

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I’m My Obsession

This is my second post of the day. Scroll down to read more about how great I am.

I have become obsessed with a part of my body; I just can’t leave it alone. It is my skin.

My sister-in-law is opening a spa and enlisted my family to research the offerings of the spa in our Las Vegas hotel. In the name of family harmony, Rob and I selflessly (and repeatedly) delivered ourselves into the hands of massage therapists, manicurists, and Jacuzzi attendants; the most haunting episode of all was my appointment with the facialist, who forced me at gunpoint to purchase so much product that, were I to apply it all faithfully, it would take me from dawn to dusk for the morning creams, ointments, and potions alone. Naturally, overachiever that I am, I do this every day and get only a few minutes’ rest before moving on to the strict nighttime regimen.

I am not sure if my skin looks better because of all the attention or because keeping all of that product straight has crowded the things causing my worry lines right out of my mind.

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I Think I’m So Great

You all know that I am normally a very modest person and loath to mention my usual heroics. I do not require accolades when I rescue kitties from trees. Praise is the furthest thing from my mind when I help little old ladies cross the street. And I did not defeat Dr. Octopus for the reward money.

But I will mention one teeny, tiny thing that I did. It is minuscule, really; a trifle that barely merits attention.
I single-handedly put out the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.

Oh yes.

Oh . . . well . . . no. But does it count that I extinguished a couple of torches from the fire-spinning dancers who helped re-enact the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 this past Friday night at an event called “Earth, Wind, and the Baltimore Fire”?

I was what they called a “safety,” standing by with damp towels at the ready. If someone caught on fire, I was supposed to yell, “Stop! You’re on fire!” and rush forward with my damp towels to save the day.

No one caught on fire, so I did not get to deliver my show-stopping line, but I managed to be the star of the entire performance nonetheless.

It really is a burden to be me. Quite so.

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L___, L___, P____ o_ F___!

Me? I am a liar. A liar! My pants? They are on fire.

There are things, every time I do them, that I swear I will never do again, and then I do. Shopping at Staples on West Eighty-first Street and Broadway is one of them.

Flying is another.

I hate to fly. It’s not even being in the air that is the worst part, although the idea that I might easily plummet from the air to the ground is never far from my mind. Equally horrific, and infinitely more probable, is the annoying bureaucracy of flying: having to arrive at the airport so early, parking the car far away, the line at check in, the line at the x-ray machine, delayed flights, canceled flights, claiming luggage, renting a car. And then there is the indignity of flying coach: the cramped leg space, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, the lack of amenities, having to listen to other people’s nonsense (much of which is broadcast from screaming babies), the lack of control over any aspect of the environment.

There was something wrong with me yesterday. Perhaps because I forgot to take my medication for a few scattered days while in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, my mind was going whacko. Every noise, every word, every jostle seems calculated to annoy me to the fullest. I have also been claustrophobic. These are not symptoms amenable to air travel. Especially not when one’s plane has been delayed for four hours and is then diverted to a holding pattern, and when one ends up at the luggage-claim carousel next to an elderly chatty Cathy who maintains a monologue very similar to this for a half hour: I don’t remember what my bag looks like! Oh, yes, I do, it’s green, a duffle, army green, not like that hunter green. She told me she put a red ribbon on hers. I think that one’s black. I had a red ribbon for mine, too. Is that my bag? No. That looks like it. Well, it’s sort of that color, but not really, more of an army green. More of a duffle. Check that black one and see if it’s hers. Oh, they’re all black. Check them all! Is that it? No. Is that it? Try that one. Mine’s green. Army green. It’s a green duffle. Is that it? Look for a red ribbon. I can’t remember if I put one on or not. Is that it? Check that tag. Look for a black one. Excuse me, excuse me, I can’t reach it. Is that it? No. She told me what hers looks like. It’s black. Try that one. Mine’s green. A green duffle. Not hunter green, more like army green. . . .

The same thing that was wrong with me yesterday was wrong with me today, too. I have felt rather like screaming at various moments, which is funny becasue I had such a good time on vacation and have been feeling relatively relaxed.

Can men get PMS?

All I know for sure is that I will never fly again. Until next time.

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Inner Lives

California is well known for being a center of indistinct spirituality. Hollywood, however, despite the efforts of many a Christian Science Reading Room and Scientology Hideout, appears to be virtually devoid of soul.

(International star of stage and screen Richard Israel disagrees with my hasty assessment.)

I am in Las Vegas.

This morning, on the way to the Star Trek Experience, the cab driver said to Rob and me: “I love giving hookers a ride. I’d rather have a cab full of breasts and legs than a coupla Trekkies any day.”

We took the monorail back.