Tag Archives: friends

It’s just SO hard.

I honestly didn’t think it would be this hard.

If I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard that… I’d have a dime.

Seriously though, today I “deactivated” my Face Book account. It had become part of my daily (mostly morning) ritual.

Keurig on.
Lamp on.
Laptop on.
Face Book on.
Click, click, space bar, click…

Checking overnight status updates from West Coast friends while I slumbered during the night and then touching base with regular “morning folks” over a cup of hot java while watching the sun rise or rain fall outside the sliding glass door of my flat.

I would always try to locate an inspirational quote or photo to start the day. Perhaps listing my plans for one of my two days off during the week, or what I was prepping to chef for dinner for Daryl and I that evening. I enjoyed playing keyboard exhibitionist. I guess I felt like there were people out there who actually enjoyed my life’s quirks, words, and moments. I kind of cared about theirs… sometimes, quite deeply.

I think I became a “LIKE” whore as well. Photos of Daryl and I out enjoying wonderful meals, movies and get togethers that would solicit comments and likes as if we were Hollywood celebrities. Perhaps it was the addiction of seeing positive reactions to the updates. Maybe it was simply a way to push good energy easily from the comfort of my couch.

I sometimes struggle to remember what I actually DID before my morning Face Book ritual and more urgently important… What do I do now? My fingers need that QWERTY interaction. My mind still needs to spill its unorganized and frantic thoughts onto the light of my laptop screen to eventually be exposed to the internet world.

I’ll blog again, like I did a year or so ago.

Hang on… Here goes…

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out and about in the city of brotherly love…

This past Sunday afternoon, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community celebrated our city’s diversity with the annual “Outfest” held in the “gayborhood” of Philadelphia.

I was fortunate to have off on a rare Sunday, and Daryl and I took full advantage of the spectacular weather to explore not only the Outfest celebration later in the afternoon, but also to take a self-imposed walking tour to a few other locations in the “City of Brotherly Love” along the way AFTER our delicious breakfast at the Midtown Diner (which I describe in my other blog “a little taste.”)

I wanted to show Daryl a sculpture entitled Freedom by Zenos Frudakis at the base of the Glaxo-Smith Kline building at 16th and Vine streets that I had only seen in passing while driving through town in the past.

This is what we saw.

and this…

and this…

and lastly, this…

Daryl was totally impressed with my decision to walk several blocks to see this amazing sculpture. I knew he’d like it.

I used to live in “Philly,” and I loved it when I did. I’d walk EVERYwhere, even during inclimate weather. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and very walkable.

We saw this.

a mural on the side of Le Meridien Hotel on Arch Street at 14th.

and we passed this…

long ago abandoned, but I love the old signage on Pauline's Bridal Shop.

We continued on our excursion through town and stumbled into “Occupy Philadelphia!” which was being held on the western side of City Hall. It was truly enlightening to actually see the people, the tents, the posters and signs, all the chalk messages written on the sidewalk and the very real energy of the 99%. What I think intrigued me personally the most was the contradiction of the tent town of the “occupiers” in the shadows of these…

and this…

like this…

with their messages that included this…

and this…

oh… and this one.

We felt that we should get moving and decided to stroll past the new “paintbrush” sculpture at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts Building. Sorry guys, but it reminds me of Woody Woodpecker.

Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts

At this point of our walking tour, the weather, while beautiful, was making Daryl sweat through his polo shirt. He usually wears a tee shirt underneath, but wanted to feel “liberated” this day, so he went what I guess I would call topless commando? It didn’t work to his liking…

So we ended up here.

… to pick up a tee shirt and a new polo shirt for the Princess. Sigh. Once cleaned up and once again presentable, we were quickly on our way waving goodbye to Macy’s.

FINALLY, we arrived albeit an alley next to Sister’s and behind Woody’s, to Philadelphia’s Outfest.

The music was pumpin’ and the crowds were jumpin’! It was about 5 or 6 square blocks of diversity, camaraderie, playfulness, food, music, and every age and type of glorious human being the city has to offer.

We saw this…

and lots of these…

and of course I MADE Daryl do this…

that's Daryl on the left in his newly purchased shirt from Macys. duh.

 
 
 
 and we ran into her…
 

Shelita Buffet?

while searching for friends…
 
 
while we watched a fabulous dance troupe…
 
 
The day was young and we continued to enjoy the company of more good people, like these…
 
 
and these…
 
 
and these…
 
 
and her…
 

blowing UP condoms is so much better than blowing WITH them

 
and this “lady” came along…
 
 
and turned Daryl BACK into a Christian!
 

my handsome Christian!

 
We had a fantastic day in the City of Brotherly Love!

Peppah and Salt?

 
… and on our way to the car, we passed this… trying to figure out how appropriate it was to see at the end of our day in the city.
 

gourmet? pancake? balls?? Next time!

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this is your life.

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cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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the giving tree.

The cutting of the trees was the last straw. I came home yesterday to a new view.

Apparently the condo association was informed by the local electric company to remove several beautiful white pine trees from around a few of the fatigue green boxed transformers located within the development. These trees HAD to be over 50 years old I’m guessing and provided year round green and sweet summer shade. Now our building looks… what’s the word I’m looking for… STARK! Sure, I understand that the roots of the trees were more than likely cutting power unnecessarily and the branches of white pines are notorious for breaking and causing damage during wind storms, but there MUST have been another way.

There wasn’t.

I relish my shade. I crave it actually. It gives me time to stop. To think. To cherish the absent warmth of the sun. The shade even smells different. I would so enjoy walking through the shade on my way into the condo after a particularly insane day at work. I got to depend on my shade.

I took my shade for granted.

Throughout my life I have always gravitated towards shady people. Let me clarify that. I am drawn to folks that have a sense of peace… a sense of calmness that comes from within. I’m sure it’s my way of balancing out my flair for the over dramatic and emotional bursts of passion that seem to plague me from time to time. In my personal life, Daryl has certainly been a steady provider of shade that I am learning not to take for granted.

At work, however, I have lost yet another tree.

There have been many changes in personnel at the showroom I have called home for close to seven years. I have seen more people come and go than an old episode of Threes Company. In our line of work, the hours and the down time can be excruciatingly cruel. The demands of commission-based paychecks have sometimes been too much for many a struggling salesperson, and they leave or get fired. Just when I think I’m getting used to it. I’m not.

This week, a gentleman that I consider a GOOD home furnishing salesman… an HONEST salesman… a REAL person has decided to take a position in another store as a manager. He’ll be incredible at it. He has an amazing way with people. The new showroom that he is heading to is very, very fortunate. This man deserves to be successful and happy and I wish him the very best in his newest challenge.

But what about MY shade?

I still always find myself gearing up to be constantly “ON” for new and existing customers. It takes a lot of energy to remain positive when you actually feel like shoving a cocktail table where the sun don’t shine (how’s THAT for shade?). Having this man around would always somehow seem to make the day just a little easier to bear. Without him knowing it, his presence had a way of “bringing my blood pressure down.” I’ve enjoyed (and taken for granted) the company of several other trees at work too, but they seem to keep getting chopped down as well, leaving me with saplings, the occasional parasol, and a bunch of dried up weeds*.

I believe I’m selfish and I miss my shade. Hurry up and grow, sweet forest!

*Dear other people at work… this does NOT mean I consider you all dried up weeds by any means (well MOST of you anyway). It’s just a writing analogy with regard to trees and shade. Get over it.

(a favorite book of mine is Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. Check it out!)

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the gift.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written. Almost too long… but the mind has settled, the heart has slowed, the breathing has grown patterned once again and the fingers want to caress the keys from the soul’s bright spirit today.

I haven’t written lately because Daryl and I have been way too busy enjoying a summer FILLED with garden parties and iced teas, late night dancing ‘til dawn, orgies loaded with lube and Liza and dinners in Paris and cocktails in Amsterdam! Who the fuck am I kidding. I had no words to share. Period.

Many things have happened in the lives of Salt n’ Peppah in the past few months. Many things. We are on a twisted but determined path of continued growth as we look forward to a future filled with trials, tribulations, more challenges and… more lube and much less Liza.

One of the changes that we are looking forward to with great anticipation, is the birth of a grandchild in February 2012 (due date of 2/29 – Leap Year and SO appropriate). Ashley and Quintin told us (and my Mom) of their impending kidlet several weeks ago via a SKYPE conversation from Queenstown, New Zealand. Looking back in retrospect, I believe Daryl and I “like-totally” squealed as if we were two 12 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert. Like a couple of scientists, we studied a blurry black and white ultrasound that Ashley held up to the monitor while she explained technically that our grandchild currently had a tail. Once our shrieking died down to a couple of very wide grins, the kids assured us that they were holding up well and are planning on heading back home to our area of the world toward Thanksgiving of this year. Sigh.

We were THE FIRST family members that the kids shared their news with (I found out later in the conversation, that we were considered the easy “dry-run.”) and we were told specifically (read: threatened) NOT to post on Face Book or my blog until they had shared their news with other family members and several friends.

We are VERY good at keeping secrets. Daryl and I didn’t tell a SOUL that we knew that had ANY link to Face Book or a computer. We told the mailman. We told one of the Mexican landscapers (who I think believes we were asking him to turn off his weedwacker). We told a lady in the checkout line of the ACME while she was looking at a People magazine with some pregnant model on the cover, and I actually told a design customer of mine who didn’t realize I WAS married to a woman several years ago and that I had three grown children at all, as she eyed me up and down skeptically while blurting, “No effin’ way you homo.”.

Daryl is as ecstatic as a show tune writer on an episode of GLEE. He is looking forward to a grandbaby… A LOT. He has always considered my children like his own. He has followed them with me through many things in the short seven year period that he’s known them. He’s been a very active part in birthdays, graduations, family game nights, holidays, dinners as well as my son’s difficult battle with drug addiction. They find Daryl adorable, caring, comedic and a very welcome member of our ever growing dis-functionally functional family.

It’s been several locked lipped weeks of laptop keyboard silence and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and ponder on how “I” feel about being a grandparent for the first time. The age thing doesn’t bother me. You know, that thing where we THINK we’re still in high school and we’re not old enough to be a graaaannnnd parent. Fuck off, I like my AARP membership. I was a pretty good parent when the kids were small, so having a young kid around doesn’t intimidate me at all.

This child will have parents that rival Brad and Angelina with regard to spirit, tree-hugginess, intellect, worldliness, culture and love. One recent afternoon as I was driving home from work on a beautiful back road of Chester County during an unusually striking sunset, I began to tear up out of nowhere thinking about this new life, this new child growing inside MY child! I began to get emotional…

WHAT could I even begin to offer a young child at this stage of the game? Here is one half of a hopefully maturing interracial gay couple who basically lives from paycheck to paycheck in a job that pay the bills but is in no means what I aspire to be. I hang out with my guy when our mixed up work schedules allow with NEVER a full day off together unless I call out sick or plan way in advance. I don’t travel the world. My car is not a “Beemer,” and my suits aren’t Armani. So I wondered… what CAN I offer this child…

Then today… I read with much surprise and even more humility, this dedication to me from a fellow “blogster” whom I have known briefly in blog months (we write a lot of emotional stuff, so a month in the blogosphere is like a year or two in the real world). She, like I, continues to struggle with clinical depression on occasion and she has been “pourin’ her cotton pickin’ heart out” on her blog about dealing with the blackness, the loneliness and the strangling grip that this disease can have on people.

I believe she is an incredible writer and has a way of pulling out all the stops when describing the effects that this debilitating disease can have. I commented to her that I wanted to thank her for just being who she is. I told her she is a gift. I believe she IS.

That’s when it hit me about what I can offer this newest member of my growing insanely diverse family. The gift of truth. The gift of practicing non judgement. The gift of a world with less discrimination. I can not only speak about the amazing positive impacts of diversity but I (with the help of Daryl) can actually SHOW this youngster what it means to be honest with one’s self and what it means to be real with others. To not be as concerned with whether its important to wear the right designer dress or play in the dirt with American made trucks, as much as how important is to be a good person first… to care, respect and love whomever you want, whenever you want.

I personally, cannot wait!

(Please take a few moments to read PissyKittysLitterBox blog… she really is quite talented!)

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Stonewall.

my photo of "Stonewall"

Daryl and I were here in April of this year. It was a much more subdued visit than what transpired at this same location yesterday.

It was a chilly, rainy early afternoon as we searched the winding, uneven streets of New York’s west village for a little bar called the Stonewall Inn. Daryl and some wonderful lesbian friends of ours jumping the clogged drain puddles and dodging the vicious splashes of speeding taxicabs with umbrellas in hand as we came upon this tiny brick place in a city of tall, thick concrete. A glowing orange neon sign greeted us into the day.

It was much smaller than I expected. I remember the first time I saw the “Cheers” bar in Boston I was underwhelmed at its small size. I expected it to be larger than life itself… filled with those folks from the TV show singing songs while Sam and Diane argued flirtatiously in a corner. I was disappointed then, but not today.

The Stonewall Inn was barely open this early afternoon. “The gays” typically don’t begin bar hopping until much later in the early evening, so the bar was deserted, except for a short little fire plug bartender named typically, Joe. He welcomed us in immediately as if desperate for company on this miserable Saturday afternoon. Folding our dripping umbrellas and leaving them by the front door, I looked around. You could smell the age and the mustiness of this dark and dingy place. A thick painted tin ceiling and dark poster filled walls hugged us as small tables were tossed about a small elevated “stage” hardly protected by a single red velvet rope. Black and white photos of the now famous “Stonewall Riots” were haphazardly placed around on the deep paneled walls of this establishment. Framed newspaper and magazine clippings of history were draped behind the bar. Somehow the light of day made this bar look like me when I wake up in the morning. Raw and exposed. Pale and puffy. Vulnerable yet somehow as cozy as the thick fleece robe I throw on to ward off the early morning chill.

“What’ll it be?” Joe smiled, as we pulled our heavily shellacked bar stools across the old wooden floor making a wood on wood scraping echo that empty bars tend to make. We looked like a bunch of drowned rats as Joe hooked us up with clean-glassed beverages. He continued shuffling around the place acting as though he had to get ready for some large crowd, punctuated with a chuckle or two about a drag show here a few nights before.

My group of friends sat and listened to Joe’s ipod music playing loud enough over the bar’s worn speaker system to get a foot tapping from Janet Jackson’s “Control.” I continued walking around the bar’s interior, studying the photos on the walls of the Riots of 1969 trying to imagine a world where gays and lesbians had to hide so much of themselves, even in the progressiveness and toleration of New York City. To have to fear for your livelihood, your reputation and in some cases, your life must have been unimaginable to deal with on a daily basis.

Daryl and I attempted to play a game of pool on the Stonewalls well worn and uneven table, its dulled orange felt dusty with cigarette ashes and a cocktail straw. I smiled as I thought that gay men typically aren’t playing the game as a sport anyway, but as more of a way to connect to someone else if only for a moment… or possibly to start a conversation with a future life partner. The pool table eventually ate our cue ball, refused to spit it back out and our game was done. Joe didn’t have the key or the means to fix it.

We chatted and joked with each other and with Joe for another hour or so while finishing up a couple of rounds of cocktails. Daryl purchased two souvenir tee shirts for his sister and Mom, and we moved on. The rain had let up a bit as we headed out into the streets of the Village as the ghosts of men and women past smiled as we all left giggling hand in hand not realizing that in a few months there would be throngs here celebrating another milestone, another victory.

Thank you for your tiring fight, people of this tiny little place called Stonewall. Thank you for your beginning to bring the right of marriage to ALL people to the sidewalks and streets of this city… this state and eventually this country.

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