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02 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Scene - Saturday night, my living room:  A guest of a guest is seated next to me.  He seems unaware of the liquid discharge from his nostril until a large, clear drop dangles dangerously from the tip of his nose.  He reaches up and wipes the liquid away with his thumb.  Then he rubs his thumb alternatively on his pants and the arm of the recliner.  This is repeated several times to my horror.  I must now burn my recliner.

Scene - Saturday night, my kitchen, slightly earlier:  A guest of a guest arrives with a large plastic bag of overripe strawberries he intends to offer to the other guests. He inquires where I keep my powdered sugar and becomes irate when I tell him I don't have any.  An apartment without powdered sugar?  Who has heard of such a thing!  I consider handing him a cup and sending him next door.  I wonder if the sound of the deadbolt will be too obvious.

Scene - Today, Financial District:  A man dressed in business attire exits a high rise building.  Distracted by the sound of a trolley, he walks into a pillar.  He swings around, glares at the pillar and shakes his fist.

03 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Ba-da-Bingo is tomorrow night.  Click here for details.  Attendance is strongly encouraged.

The coolest event of the last twelve months has to be my meeting Erika Lopez.  I discovered her books years ago and loved them all.  I saw her walking across the street one day and now we send each other the funniest e-mail I've ever read.  Click here and look at Erika's newest product - Crack Ho' Glow.

My mobile telephone provider seems to have died today.  Both of my telephones (yes, I have more than one mobile telephone) are dead, MUNI Guy's phone is dead and Evil Office Woman Next Door was complaining to a coworker her telephone wasn't working.  I'd be less concerned if a Very Important Client wasn't supposed to call me today.

I overheard a snippet of the Great Leader George Bush talking about the loss of manufacturing jobs in the United States.  To get those jobs back, he says, we need to improve trade with other countries.  What he missed is that all those jobs went overseas because of the half-baked trade rules we already have.  Simple fact:  Workers making $15 an hour with benefits cannot compete with workers making twelve cents per hour in countries without safe water, medical care or housing. 

The Great Leader seems to have missed all the news that white collar jobs have started to follow blue collar jobs.  Call centers, accounting, programming, design and even management jobs are being shipped overseas faster than the Great Leader can say "tax cut". 

I am baffled the Great Leader can continue to spout nonsense and no one seems to catch on.  The Great Leader and his pals carry money out of the treasury in big, bulging buckets while the GAO tells us the deficit will be the largest in history and more troops die each day in Iraq.  Americans can find neither evil weapons of mass destruction in Iraq nor jobs the purportedly improving economy. 

The Great Leader wants us to believe we are righteous.  He asks us to believe the path he points to leads to a bright, happy future filled with heterosexual marriages and abstinent teenagers.  He promises a world where the brown, poor and overly religious people won't cause us much concern as long as we agree to take off our shoes at the airport.  We are Americans.  God is on our side and it is our destiny to lead the world. 

Perhaps it is time to rename an airport for the Great Leader.

06 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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If I knew anything about either baseball or weather, I would say today was a perfect day for both.  It has been at least fifteen years since I was compelled to play any game which required me to smack a perfectly innocent ball with a bat.  Today the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence challenged the Castro Country Club Cougars to a charity softball game.  No one kept an official score, but I am fairly certain we won 35 to zero.

I found the best way to guard second base was to place my lawn chair on top of the bag and wait with my umbrella for the runner to arrive.  Other nuns thought it was easier just to steal the bases and leave the field.  When batting, nuns discovered it was easier to run directly past the pitcher to second base rather than the more circuitous first-second base route. 

There is no finer moment in life than those hours spent dressed as a nun and playing softball on a warm Saturday afternoon.
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09 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Four years ago, a man I was dating became unexpectedly and seriously ill.  In the morning he seemed fine and by the end of my workday he was in the hospital awaiting emergency surgery.  The doctors told him the prognosis was promising.  Meanwhile, they took me aside to tell me the infection in his legs was so severe that to save his life he might loose his ability to walk. 

I stayed with my lover until late in the evening when the operating theater was ready.  I walked with his gurney to the elevator and I struggled to breath as he disappeared beyond the closing metal doors.  I was torn with grief at the thought of him loosing his ability to walk and despair at the idea I might lose him altogether.Click for larger image

He survived the surgery and regained his ability to walk.  While he recovered, I confronted the reality of love, loss and grief. 

That love and grief walk hand in hand is no secret.  Love must always end in grief.  Perhaps while we're in love we are able to ignore the grief, much like we spend our lives in awareness of our eventual death and generally doing whatever we can to avoid giving it much thought.  If love exists in this moment, we can effectively delay the consideration of grief until its presence arrives with solid reality. 

Grief, unavoidable and undeniable, can serve as a mirror, reflecting back to us the value of the love we have, the grandeur of the people who populate our existence.  There is nothing so motivational as impending loss to make us savor the moment as never before. 

For some of my clients, loss and grief are so profound they cannot bring themselves to love again.  The prospect of loosing another love is too much to even consider.  For others, love is a way of shielding themselves from experiencing grief and pain they've never allowed themselves to feel.  I've done both in my lifetime.  Both choices require holding back and closing down. 

I look at MUNI Guy and I wonder if it is possible to love someone more than this.  And yet - in the very same moment - I feel the gentle tap of grief on my shoulder reminding me someday this will hurt magnificently.  Whether we stay together until the end of our lives or he grows tired of my inability choose appropriate dinner party clothing, grief is waiting for us. 

Grief and I are old dance partners.  We've tangoed, waltzed, and two-stepped at infrequent intervals for years.  Somewhere in between the fox trot and the mambo, I learned the rhythm of the dance.  It is the elegant movement between love and loss, joy and grief which provide contrast to life. 

10 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I move frequently enough that I don't have excess belongings.  The Navy taught me to pack all my earthly possessions in a box six feet long, two feet wide and four inches deep.  I suspect I could no longer do so but give me two boxes and I might make it.

MUNI Guy came over last night to help me pack for the move to the new apartment.  As I cleaned out the closet, I modeled for him the black mobster suit with the big shoulder pads (circa 1993), the levi jacket (circa 1987) and the very tacky leather vest (circa 1996).  These joined the pile of discarded 501s and way-too-short shorts in the charity pile.

While I find it relatively easy to rid myself of ill fitting and very unfashionable clothing (slightly unfashionable clothing often survives the cut), there are some objects which invariably survive the culling and move from place to place.  These objects tend to remain in boxes in closets, opened only when it is time to move again.  I open the worn cardboard flaps, attempting a memory-soaked grin as I gag on the musty odor of time worn kitsch. 

There is a old silk tie my grandfather wore, a broken thermometer from my grandparents house, the faux antique radio my parents gave me in junior high school which no longer works, the pencil portrait of me drawn by my eighth grade teacher, a very questionable cat-shaped cookie jar, several stuffed animals from my childhood and a worn blanket I used to carry around the house when I was two years old. 

Perhaps the objects in this old box are tangible reminders of the past.  I can touch these little pieces of history and know the memories in my head came from moments as real as an old silk tie and a broken radio.

Each time I move, I look at these objects and consider which should make the move and which should not.  Often the most difficult decisions we make are what to leave in the past and what to carry into the future. 

17 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I neglected to stop at the bank for cash before approaching the Bay Bridge toll plaza yesterday.  I exited the freeway in Oakland to search for an ATM and found myself in a sketchy neighborhood.  I could locate neither a bank nor a teller machine as I drove through endless blocks of worn stucco houses, beauty parlors, liquor stores, Baptist and AME churches.  After a fruitless thirty minutes, I turned back to the freeway.  Rising above the blighted neighborhood was a giant Bank of America billboard declaring "This way to an ATM" with arrows pointing to empty lots on every side.

I did not have my camera.

People often give me odd looks when I pull out my camera.  I have a fetish for looking skyward in big cities and observers often look upward to see what it is I'm aiming at.  Some people give me evil looks if they think the lens is pointed in their direction.

I started taking photographs as a way to break up the text in my journal.  I placed a camera in my bag and brought it out anytime something caught my eye.  With time, this practice had me searching the world in a new way.  The little pieces of life that I might otherwise disregard become fascinating subjects to frame and consider. 

If meditation helps us become more aware of the moment, then photography has become one of my meditations.  I find myself staring upward at the sun marching across the marble facade of a building, the footsteps of business people clattering around me, the smell of busses and cards rolling through the city and in that moment I am completely, fully, present.

James Blundell sings about a sailing boat captain remarking on a perfect ocean:  "Why should we pull the sails in?  A fine day like this may not come again."

If I were to choose my favorite photographs, they would include (with some others)  this one, this one, this onethis one, and this one.

18 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Subject: Contact Form
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 2003 00:36:30 -0700

comments: Hello,Sister Betty
I 'm Japanese chubby daddy. I love your website & your photos. I'm intresting at Railroad in U.S.also gay current movement. I hope to see you. what shall I do? I intend go to visit to U.S soon. I'm looking forward to hear from you soon
Best regards.
much love 

19 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)

Our new apartment sits next to Market Street, San Francisco's primary thoroughfare.  The morning and evening rush hours are excessively noisy.  Throw in a motorcycle, a gang-member-wannabe with booming bass in his late model mid-priced car or a diesel truck with engine brakes and the volume is disturbing.  Fortunately the apartment is equipped with double pane, noise reducing windows.  Unfortunately, it is too warm in San Francisco to keep them closed.

My last apartment was so quiet I was sometimes awakened when the refrigerator compressor started in the kitchen. 
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During my time in the Navy, I learned to subconsciously monitor the sounds around me.  The engine room is a deafening environment requiring both earplugs and earphones.  A good mechanic could walk into the screaming machinery space and tell exactly what was running, what wasn't running within specifications and even the speed of the ship, all from the sound.  I could sleep soundly through the slamming of doors, snoring of other sailors, constant blast of ventilation and steam and yet would awaken instantly the moment these sounds changed or stopped.  Silence on a ship often indicates the worst of disasters. 

Having spent years attuned to subconsciously monitor for changes in sound, the cacophony of the city traffic makes it impossible for me to concentrate.  I find myself craving space where I can lean back into the comfortable fabric of silence.

The back room of the apartment is shortly to be converted to my office.  Removed from the street and heavily insulated, it will be my retreat from the noise of San Francisco.

The world is a noisy place.  Television is the worst offender moving into supermarkets, lobbies, restaurants and airports. Throw in announcing systems, car alarms, radios, people on mobile telephones and those women who wear really big shoes and seem not to notice the volume of their voices, and the appeal of ads featuring sunny mountain meadows or star lit nights on distant beaches is clear. 

On Road Trip 2003, I found myself accompanied by only the sound of a horse's clopping feet on a Mackinaw Island road.  How did people live without television, radio and telephones? 

22 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Seven telephone calls and two hours were insufficient to resolve whether or not the local telephone company will be installing DSL in the new apartment as promised.  I wandered through the maze of voicemail prompts and endured the agony of speaking to inept, powerless and underpaid welfare recipients turned customer service agents only to learn the telephone company claims the line that rings inside the apartment doesn't actually exist. In summary, our local telephone company is as shitty as it always has been.

Rather than indulge my inclination to rant at length about Pacific Bell, here are some interesting diversions I found while on hold for a customer service agent in SBC's Indian Ocean Call Center:  Space Rocket Central, Erik Rueter's project using some photographs from Road Trip 2003, Mondo Robot and Smart Alex Designs.

I gave up on DSL.  My new Verizon Express Network card seems to function well.  I have fourteen days to try it out...

24 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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Bill (creator of sent me this photograph of the not yet available MINI Cooper four wheel drive prototype in front of my new garage.  Who needs a riding mower when you can add a snow plow and mowing attachment to your British motorcar?

In February of 2002, I wrote a somewhat sappy (reading old entries can be frightening) entry about a glass violin.  My brother in Iowa was browsing through the archives (his work as a university professor requires he spend a great deal of time conducting online research), stumbled across the entry and sent me a note that he has the violin and volunteered to send it my way.

The California Recall Election may actually happen now.  Gray Davis is a terrible governor with questionable talent and ethics.  The recall election is a end-run by some right wing people with entirely too much money and venom.  Should my dislike of right wing nonsense make me vote to retain a governor who is, at best, inept, bland and so centrist as to have no real ideas of his own?  Does voting for the recall endorse further silliness of crazy conservative elements with big bank accounts? 

The two party system ensures only that our country will continue to vacillate between polar extremes.  Our votes are fear based ballots influenced more by who we don't want in office rather than who we do want. 

I know in a Homeland filled with Freedom Loving People and Defenders of Peace, I feel neither at home, nor free, nor at peace. 

25 September 2003 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
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I rarely see myself as an adult.  Certainly I know I'm old enough to be an adult, I just never feel like an adult.  Adulthood is like pornography:  I can't describe it but I know it when I see it.

Sometimes I do things that make me realize I must be an adult.  Somehow these moments always seem to involve food.  I feel very adult when I eat cereal for dinner or I stay up until 2:00 AM watching movies and eating cookies when I have to work the next day. 

Deciding to drive across the country and back felt very grown up, but not quite adult.

Yesterday I sent a lease to my tenant in Maine.  Next Tuesday I'll be a landlord.  That feels odd and

I like to watch Bear in the Big Blue House. I own all the Muppets DVDS. I sing stupid songs to my cats like "Boo the cat, there she sat, she starts to purr, she sheds her fur..."  I generally never allow humans to hear these songs.  Cats don't mock you for being tone deaf or repeatedly using the same word to rhyme if you can't think of anything else.

I theorize gay men are often forced to grow up quickly.  We skip our adolescence out of necessity.  The world rarely embraces us so we have to grow up and take care of ourselves.  Later in life we revert back to our adolescent behavior as a way of reliving a childhood we never had.  If you disagree with me, spend a weekend at a circuit party and you'll understand.

My clients sit in my office and pour their hearts out.  They tell me things about their lives (I suspect) they tell no one else.  In that moment, they must at least think I'm an adult.  I guess I do a pretty good imitation. 

I learned an important fact in my work:  No one really knows what it is to be an adult.  We run around trying to approximate some image we have in our heads and we often beat ourselves up for our failures. 

Perhaps, somewhere in our childhood, we get the idea that being an adult means being independent, strong, durable, free from doubt.  We wait...and wait...and wait for our moment - the moment we embody these qualities.  Then, we will be adults.  Humans, unfortunately, are plagued with doubt, frequently weak, often not so durable and not always independent. 

I'm looking forward to the day when I have children.  I cannot wait to built puppet theatres, have tea with the animals, construct tree forts, dress up for Halloween and read bedtime stories.  We'll have Lego and Tinker Toys and great big boxes of stuffed animals.  I'll build a room in the house where we don't ever have to put the toys away, where we can roll on the floor and draw on the walls. 

Of course, someday my children will grow older and think I am insane.  I guess that is just part of their becoming adult.


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