Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Yesterday . . .

. . . I said good-bye to my cherished cat Jordy. He lived a good life (16 years). Yesterday, was a crappy day all around. I just knew when I got up that something was wrong. Boy, was I right on that count. I made the painful – trust me, I kept Kleenex in business this morning – decision to have him put down. He’s just not been doing well, arthritis was setting in, and he was just having a really hard time of it lately.

Jordy was the best cat ever. Not that his sisters Tasmyn and Squeaky aren’t good cats, they just have an attitude most of the time. Jordy, on the other paw, was just Mr. Laid Back. He accepted life (the addition of Tasmyn to the household, then Spanky and Arthur when Frank and I moved in together, then Squeaky after Arthur passed away, and finally Jesse and James once Spanky had journeyed forth into the great beyond) as just another day.

I went to the pound sixteen years ago looking for the most adorable kitten ever. They had no kittens that day and kept showing me cat after cat. None of them seemed “right”. I’d finally settled on a cute cat, when all of a sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and there was Jordy – cute as could be, just looking at me with those big green eyes saying “Uh, excuse me, excuse me, but I’m the best there is!!!” Truer words could not have been spoken. He melted my heart with that simple tap on my shoulder. I took him home that day and despite the neutering two weeks later, oh, and then the declawing incident two weeks after that, he was my little sack of flour that I could carry around like a baby . . . for sixteen great years. Okay, there was the diabetes in 1999 and two shots a day, but he took the shots like a trooper and showed up in the kitchen every night around the same time to take his medicine. I rarely had to hunt him down to give him his shots, though there were twenty or forty such occasions where he made me look for him. He was a cat after all, and had to remind me that I was at his beck and call, and not the other way around.

I went to the vet alone yesterday morning, just Jordy and me, kind of like the beginning of our lives together. Frank offered to go, but we had a contractor due at the house, and I think I just needed some “me” time with Jordy. Frank said his good-byes at the house, giving Jordy a ton of treats and petting him while he ate them. I said my final good-byes at the vet, just Jordy and me!

No one ever tells you when you adopt a pet, that the final day just sucks big time. Trust me, it does. Still, he brought joy to my life for a good long time. I miss him terribly. I’m still keeping Kleenex in business. He was the best!
There are so many good memories of Jordy . . .
  • The Closet Incident - okay, there were many times when this sneaky cat of mine snuck into the closet without either Frank or I knowing. We would only learn of his closet presence when he woke up from his nap and began to bang on the door to be let out.
  • The Scratching at the Door Incident - Jordy was an indoor cat who just loved to go outside. I would take him out every now and then and sit with him while he prowled around the yard. At one point, after finally adjusting to Spanky and Arthur (the dogs), Frank would take Jordy and the dogs out together. The three of them would run side by side across the driveway to the fenced in backyard. Jordy, at least for a time, was one of the dogs. Well, when Jordy wanted out, he would scratch at the door in the den. No, Jordy, you're not going out - was my normal response. One night, he was scratching at the door, and I made my usual response without even looking. It wasn't until the next morning, when I couldn't find Jordy to give him his shot, that I realized he was not in the house. I went outside, shouted for him, and here he came from the deeps of the wilds of the backyard. He was not a happy camper. Little did I know when I said No, Jordy, you're not going out, that he was scratching from outside wanting to get in. Boy, did Frank get a talking to that morning about not bringing Jordy back in . . . and not for the first time, I might add.
  • The OMG What Did You Bring Home Incident - this was when, after only having Jordy a few months, I brought Tasmyn home to join the family. Jordy went up to the carrier, sniffed at Tasmyn, turned his back and walked away. If you think I'm having anything to do with her, you're out of your mind. Jordy stuck to his word. He would have nothing to do with Tasmyn at all. He ignored her. If he was on the bed and she clawed her way up, he got down. If he was in a chair and she leaped over to sleep with him, he got down. He wanted nothing to do with her. Nothing at all. So, months go by and I come home from work early one day. What do I find? Jordy and Tasmyn curled up in a chair together. Jordy looks up in surprise and leaps out of the chair. After I stopped laughing, I told him that his secret was out. From that day forward, they were pretty much inseparable.
  • The I'll Protect You Incident - when Frank and I first moved in together we had the pleasant task of introducing the cats to the dogs (Spanky and Arthur). Let me tell you, Tasmyn drew blood from the dogs on many occasions. Finally, a truce was called . . . or so I thought. One night, the dogs are on the sofa with Frank, sleeping soundly, and Tasmyn struts by, reaches out, smacks the hell out of Spanky, and keeps on walking. Well, next day, payback time and Spanky corners Tasmyn. He barks. She hisses. From behind me a hear a low growl. Here comes Jordy, tail puffed up big as can be, eyes, wide, and coming across the room toward Spanky. Nobody, not nobody, messes with my sister, BUD!!! He might have disliked her to begin with, but she somehow wormed his way into his heart, and nobody was going to bother her, not even Spanky.

The memories go on and on, and the tears continue to flow. The picture above is of Jordy in one of his favorite places - on the dining room chairs beneath the table cloth. He always thought no one could find him there. His only problem - he always let his tail dangle out from beneath the table cloth. Still, when in doubt, no cat about, look beneath the tablecloth!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Christmas music . . .

. . . plays semi-softly in the background. Outside, the rain is falling. Glad I'm not in Chicago . . . or anywhere else where snow is socking them in and giving them a splendidly white Christmas. Okay, I would love a white Christmas. It just rarely happens in TN.

I grew up outside of Chicago. Snow was part and parcel of Christmas. I remember only one year where we could actually see the grass at Christmastime. Ahh, the days of childhood when I would romp all day in the snow - bundled up (long underwear, jeans, snow pants, quadruple layer of socks, sweaters, jackets, mittens, scarves, hats, face totally protected from the cold) and braving the huge drifts of snow, tunneling from yard to yard, building snow forts and snowmen, and having snowball fights. Oh, then there was the creek behind the house. Ice skating everyday as well. Oh, did I mention I had a tendency of finding the only thin spot on the ice and falling through.

Once upon a time, in the days of childhood, I fell through the ice - repeatedly - on a single day. Well, after the umpteenth time, my mother had enough. "If you fall through the ice again don't bother coming home." Ahh, the joys of childhood when you take your parents words literally. I fell through the ice again.

Darkness falls. I'm not home. My parents, sisters and brother, bundle up and beginning searching for me. No sight nor sound to be found in the winter wonderland that was the Chicago suburbs at that time. Finally, mother opens the garage door and there I am - soaked to the bone, shivering (probably blue, but she never mentions that part when she tells the story).

Well, years later we can laugh about the story. I always tell Mom "careful what you tell your children". Oh, and I have no true memory of the event. I guess it is true that you block out the traumatic events of your childhood. Still, those were the days.

Where do our childhoods go so that we no longer truly enjoy snow? Or Christmas for that matter! We lived in a two story house growing up. The one Christmas tradition I remember clearly, is the four of us (two sisters, my brother and I) perched at the top of the stairs waiting for Mom and Dad to wake (okay, they'd probably been awake since 4 AM hearing us whispering outside their bedroom door) up and allow us to go downstairs. We'd make slow treks - one at a time - down the stairs to peek around the corner into the living room to see what we could see. Then, in a mad - probably earth-shattering dash - we would scurry back up the stairs and perch at the top, expectantly looking at Mom and Dad's room. Again and again, we would repeat this action until finally Dad would emerge. Were we allowed to run pell-mell down the stairs? Oh, no, that would be too simple. Dad meandered his way down the stairs. Mom had yet to emerge. the wait was eternal. Everything was eternal at that age. Finally, Mom would emerge in her robe. "Merry Christmas. Wait here." She would go down and make coffee. Finally, Dad would appear at the bottom of the stairs with his camera. "Now," he would say, and we would rush down while he snapped a picture. Year after year, the same situation, a little less wild the older we got, but the picture - two girls, two boys, in pajamas and robes, rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning - filled the photo albums.

Bottom of the stairs, Mom blocking the way to the living room where Santa's presents lay exposed for all to see except for us. Around the corner into the family room where the overflowing (mostly with fruit, I might add) lay on the fire place where - thankfully - the fire had finally burned out to allow Santa entry into the house. We dug into the stockings with hurried fervor and only then were we allowed to dash into the living room and see what Santa had left us.

Mom and Dad let us play with our Santa gifts while Mom fixed breakfast. The same thing every year: blueberry muffins, bacon, scrambled eggs and orange juice. To this day, we all still make the same thing on Christmas day. Tradition. After breakfast, we could open the rest of the gifts. Chaos. Paper everywhere. "Thanks Mom and Dad". Phone calls to grandparents and then off - do we have to???? - Church. Back home from Church. Play with the toys. Christmas Dinner! Merry Christmas!

Childhood is gone. My brother, sisters and I are grown. We all have our own families and lives. No more running down the stairs in pell mell fashion. No more Dad snapping the pictures at the bottom of the stairs. Still, near or far, the memories remain forever in our hearts.

Merry Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Whatever happened to . . .

. . . children should be seen and not heard?

I was getting my haircut the other day and two women had brought their children to the salon (yes, I go to a salon - good haircut, they serve wine and the prices are not that bad) with them. The children were running rampant through the salon. Their mothers thought they were so cute. I'm sure their mothers were the only ones who thought they were cute. Eventually, one of the salon workers politely told the children that they needed to sit on the couch and not move. The children - for the most part - did.

Here's my gripe: the mothers should have told their children to sit on the couch, play with their toys, and not move. The children should never have been running rampant through the salon.

As a child, I would never have been allowed to run rampant. My parents had better control over us. We did what we were told . . . for the most part, we were kids, we misbehaved, and we knew we would get punished. It was part of life when I was growing up. There were consequences. If Mom told me to sit in a chair while she had her hair cut; I did exactly that. I did not get up and run like a heathen through the beauty shop. I listened to my mother.

The sad fact about this post, is that - most likely - the mothers of the children in question did not tell their children not to run rampant through the salon. The mothers - not once while I was there - ever said one word to their children as they ran through the store, sometimes screaming at the top of their lungs. Boy, talk about needing a glass of wine.

So, to parents everywhere when out in public with your children - it is not okay to allow your children to run around like heathens in a place of business. I'm just saying . . .

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Joe the Plumber is Appalled!!!

The title of this post is the title of a recent article on about how Joe the Plumber "felt "appalled" at some of his interactions with the Arizona senator, and soon felt the need to ditch his campaign" ( First - he never did ditch the campaign, he was there to the bitter end.

Now, what is wrong with this picture? This man - Joe the Plumber - literally threw himself on McCain's bandwagon. He appeared at rally after rally in support of John McCain and now that McCain did not get - thankfully - elected, Joe the Plumber is showing his true colors. I mean, really, get some morals, man!!! You had no problem grabbing whatever limelight you could - even though you owed back taxes - and going so far as to sign a deal with a management firm in Nashville to represent you . . . until your candidate of choice lost the election. Hmmm, maybe you should have supported Obama???

According to the article, at one point, because of how appalled he was, Joe "wanted to get off the bus after I talked to him" ( What stopped him? Why did he continue to go to rally after rally and support a man who "appalled" him? Well, let's see, does 15 minutes of fame have anything to do with it? More than likely. Why is he speaking out now? Because the world has forgotten about Joe the Plumber and he is - allegedly - not a happy camper. What's a plumber to do when the limelight begins to dim? Oh, wait, here's an idea, let me talk bad about the person that helped propel me into the limelight in the first place. Et tu, Joe????

I had little respect for this man - unpaid back taxes and all that jazz - in the first place, but I have even less respect now. I could place a bet that Joe being "appalled" would not have happened had John McCain won the election. I'm just saying . . .

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Tomorrow (Dec 10, 2008) . . .

. . . is call out gay day. In effect, in order to show the allegedly ignorant people that continually vote for hate legislation (Prop 8, for example), gays - and their supporters - across the United States are supposed to call in sick (i.e., call out gay) on Wednesday, December 10, 2008. The second option offered is to not spend a cent tomorrow - no Starbucks, no McDonald's for lunch, no nothing.

For me, since I work for a highly enlightened employer that accepts me for me (as I pointed out to our HR person, I'm gay at work every day, why make a special event of that fact??) and offers domestic partnership benefits, I'm choosing the second option and not spending a cent toward the economy tomorrow.

Personally, I think the "let's not spend a cent" makes more sense, because the true impact of our contribution to society will be felt. The allegedly ignorant love to take the money of the GLBT community, they just don't want to offer equality to GLBT. So, the logical choice in the matter, is to not spend a cent tomorrow.

Will the impact of GLBT non-spending be phenomenal? Probably not. Will any one notice the impact? Again, probably not. The point of the situation is not always the impact, but the fact that something was done. So what if the allegedly ignorant fail to realize that the economy faltered just a little bit more because those in the GLBT community, and their supporters, withheld their money for just one day. So what, if - for many - the effort seems empty. The effort is not empty. The effort - in my opinion - is the reward.

By not spending money tomorrow, by not going into work, the GLBT community is taking a stand against inequality. Maybe no one will notice. I think, however, that someone will notice. I think that the passage of Proposition Eight (hate legislation at its finest) will perhaps - hopefully and hurtfully - bite the proverbial asses of all who voted for its passage. In the end, the wake up call has sounded - loudly and clearly - for not only the GLBT community, but its supporters as well. Tomorrow - in the words of Scarlett O'Hara - is just another day, but it is a day where the economy will suffer a slight setback because many members of the GLBT, and their supporters, will choose not to spend their money. I'm just saying . . .

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Will Work for $1!!!

This is the amazing statement made by the CEOs of the Big Three automakers!

In my opinion, it is an empty statement. It has no meaning. It has no impact. Why? Well, let's see, because their salary per year is probably more than I'll ever make in a single lifetime, not to mention their yearly bonuses that are also probably more than I'll ever make in a single lifetime. So, forgive me for greeting the news with my normal dose, plus an additional amount for added measure, of cynicism. The CEOs can more than afford to work for $1 for a year. They are not going to be hurting for money. They are not going to have to worry about putting food on the table. They are still going to be able to take their lavish vacations, spend money like there is no tomorrow, and still have more money left in their bank accounts than I'll ever have in my lifetime.

Do I sound bitter? Well, probably, but it is not intentional. I'm just amazed that the CEOs actually believe they are making a sacrifice. It is not a sacrifice. They don't have to worry - at least not right now - about money. Their working for $1 should not be a condition for the Big Three getting bailout money. The CEOs should take some of their gazillion of dollars of excess money and bail their own companies out. The ultimate decisions of the auto industry, that put it in the current state, end up with the CEOs. So, instead of taxpayer money, the CEOs can give back some of their bonuses and their years of extremely excessive salaries. I'm just saying . . .

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Rights Denied: The 2nd Class Citizenship of GLBT

The following is from Join the Impact:

There has been a great deal of talk on The Impact about Light Up the Night and whether or not we should have 2nd Class Citizen T-shirts. Many feel that they are a 1st Class Citizen with 2nd Class Rights, and I think we should be allowed to express who we are in a way we are comfortable with. When it comes down to it, few will argue that our lack of rights incorporates a feeling of 2nd Class in one way or another. On December 20th, we want to bring light to this lack of rights and want you to feel comfortable expressing the 2nd Class status in your own way.

So many people still don’t understand what we are fighting for. Here’s some examples of the “unequal protections under the law” that the LGBTQ community faces:

  • We can not fight for our country without hiding who we are
  • In many states (like the recent law in Arkansas) We can not adopt a displaced child in need of a home and safety
  • In many states, we can still be fired because we are gay
  • My rights in Washington do not stand when I cross the border to Idaho. Therefor, if my partner were to fall ill on a cross country trip, she would be alone in the hospital and I would be powerless.
  • Partners cannot share insurance in many states
  • In many states, people can be murdered because of their sexuality, but their murderer will not be tried for committing a hate crime
  • A loving couple can share a home, but if one passes, that home can be taken from the other in states where shared property rights are not available.
  • Finally, a couple can share their lives, share expenses, share good times and bad over many years, but they still cannot gain the equal protections and recognition that two strangers can in one drunken night in Vegas. 2 Strangers + 1 20 minute ceremony + $50 + 10 shots of tequila = Holy Matrimony and 1st Class Protections Under the Law… now who’s crazy?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Random Act of Kindness

What is a random act of kindness? Well, it's pretty self defining, don't you think?

I was the victim of a random act of kindness on the way into work this morning. No, not a victim, but rather the surprised recipient! I'm in the drive-thru line at Starbucks - waiting, waiting, waiting, and waiting some more - and I finally get to the window to pay. I was informed that the woman in the car in front of me paid for my order as, her words, a random act of kindness.

I was surprised. The Starbucks employee was surprised. A stranger - total, complete - bought my peppermint mocha twist grande and apple fritter. She did not know me. For all she knew, I could be a serial killer. I'm not, btw! She just - randomly - paid for my order.

Now, I know you're wondering whether I paid for the order of the person in line behind me. No. Why? It is not a random act of kindness, though I'm sure it would have been appreciated, to automatically buy the person in line behind you something because something was bought for you. To do so, in my opinion, cheapens the act in itself. I would have been reacting out of instinct and a sense of obligation, and not out randomness. I will perform a random act of kindness at some point . . . today, tomorrow, this week, next week, and maybe quite often at that.

My challenge to any who read this blog: Sometime, today, tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe quite often, perform a random act of kindness. Buy some one's coffee, tea, Big Mac, whatever. Hold the door open for somebody. Say good-morning. Smile. Perform a Random Act of Kindness.

Lastly, I must say, the random act of kindness had a profound effect on me. I'm still slightly dazed. In a world of chaos, a time when the simplest things - a smile, a nod of the head, a thank-you - are pointedly ignored, a stranger bought my coffee. I hate to say it, but it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm just saying . . .


Monday, December 01, 2008

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day! The world has come a long way since the onset of AIDS. Back in the day, AIDS was thought a boon from above to eradicate the homosexual population. It was the GAY disease. The only celebrating being done at the time (and, potentially, still by a select few) was by the ignorant in the world who (most likely) cheered when news spread of a deadly disease ravaging the gay population.

In the 80s, no thought would have been given to World AIDS Day. Today, in an allegedly more enlightened time for society (unless you live in a state where hate legislation was passed during the recent election, or in years past) we take one day (shouldn't we take every day) to honor those who died from, and are still fighting against, the disease that knows no boundaries. The disease is not a gay disease, it is a disease that affects men, women, and children. It is a disease that did not spring forth suddenly in the 1980s. It is a disease that has existed since the early 1900s . . . oh, and it wasn't a gay disease back then.

So, why am I blogging about World AIDS Day? Because a friend wanted to know when, all theories aside, it really started. I have no true answer to that question, but my response . . .

Well, the theory now, is that AIDS began very early at the beginning of the 20th Century . . . they just didn't know much about the disease, or the fact that it would spread so rapidly once the 80s descended upon the 20th Century. Was AIDS a government generated disease to wipe out homosexuality? If so, it kind of backfired. Was it a Christian based disease spread by some religious organization, all in the name of the greater good? Or, was it just some random freak of nature that spread like wildfire through the gay community, and then beyond to affect all Races, all Genders, and all Sexual Orientations? I think that last one is the actuality of the situation. AIDS is just one of those random things that happen in life. There is no true explanation. It was not, however, a GAY disease as the ignorant liked to proclaim (and some still do) back in the 80s. It was not God's punishment. It was just something that happened. No true explanation. No true reason. No true understanding of why, even almost 30 years later. Some things, my friend, just happen. AIDS is one of those things.

So, take a moment today, and remember all those who have died from AIDS, and those who are valiantly, day by day, still fighting the disease. Take a moment to maybe not go and pay $5 bucks for a cup of coffee, and rather, donate the money to fighting AIDS . . . or cancer . . . or heart disease . . . or . . . well, pick the cause of your choice and remember that every single day in this country, somebody dies from natural causes, or from some horrific disease like AIDS, or Cancer, or even Heart Disease that can fell a seemingly perfectly healthy man just back from a walk from the beach, and just shy of his 60th birthday, or even a young man, 24 years old out playing basketball with friends.

Take a moment, my friends . . .