I was a little worried last Thursday, because my hay fever symptoms were pretty severe, but when I went to record them in an app on my phone that I use for tracking my allergies, I saw that the pollen count that day was significantly lower than it had been the day before. But my symptoms weren’t any worse Friday morning, so I was ready to just chalk it up to random chance.
Then I logged into the work network (Friday being my usual work-from-home day), and there was a message from my boss asking everyone to sign time sheets early because he was very sick and was heading home.
But, again, my symptoms didn’t get any worse that day. And I didn’t feel any different Saturday morning. Until a few hours after I got up, when for no apparent reason I suddenly felt super tired and absolutely had to sit down right now… I conked out for a bit more than an hour. When I woke up, my throat was a little scratchy.
I kept running out of energy and being attacked by naps the rest of the day. The pollen count was pretty high, so I kept telling myself it was only hay fever.
Sunday morning I woke up with super bad headache, really sore throat, and body cramps. So, I cancelled our plans for the day.
I continued to have the random nap attacks. I’d developed a fever by Sunday night.
I stayed home from work on Monday, though I logged in and got more than half a day’s worth of work done. When I called in for one of my meetings that day, I learned that several co-workers were working from home because they were sick, and at least a couple had just called in sick and weren’t working at all.
I still had a sore throat and a mild fever Tuesday morning, so I worked from home again. I didn’t have any nap attacks, and by evening the sore throat was merely a scratchy throat. I’m hoping this means I’m getting over the cold.
Despite all of that, I managed to get a decent amount of writing done. I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo as an incentive to finish off the first draft of my current novel in progress. I was very close to the end, and figured it could be done in a month. I completed the climactic battle, and am now writing denouement scenes. So while I may miss the midnight deadline, I’ve probably wrapped the draft.
Boy Scouts shut down local troop with gay scoutmaster. Specifically: a local Methodist church needed a scoutmaster, they looked for candidates, hired this 49-year-old now openly gay former Eagle Scout, knowing he was gay. He’s led the troop, the Boy Scouts told the church they couldn’t do that, the congregation decided to stick by their scoutmaster, and the BSA has now kicked the church out of the Boy Scouts. I’ve been following the story, but was surprised when a couple of my straight co-workers brought it up at work. One of them lives near the church, his wife is friends with some of the parents (who all want to keep the scoutmaster).
I mentioned earlier that Michael used to say that he considered NorWesCon our anniversary, because he was even worse about forgetting the date of our first date (which is one of the dates I tried to remember as an anniversary) than I am, and neither of us could ever remember the date of our commitment ceremony without digging out the paperwork for our domestic partnership registration.
To be fair, we made it a very small thing we tacked onto another get-together with friends. So it wasn’t like an event planned for months ahead or anything. We needed to file domestic partnership paperwork to get us both on the same health insurance, so we did it and that was that. Just a few months afterward I had already started forgetting what the date was. It just never stuck.
I have not had the issue at all with remembering our wedding day…
When I first met Michael, I was part of a small group hosting a room party at NorWesCon. He came into the room, gave me a big infectious smile, and said, “Hi! I’m Michael.” Even though more than half the people in our fannish project are introverts, he was a lot quieter than everyone else in the room, coming off as very shy. He had very recently moved to Washington state from Missouri. He didn’t know many people at the convention.
I have to be honest, here, and say it wasn’t love at first sight. He seemed like a really nice guy. I thought he was really good looking, that’s true. My late husband, Ray, was still alive then, and Ray commented (later, when we were cleaning up after the party) that “the new guy, the super shy one from Missouri? He’s cute. Too bad he’s straight.”
Because Michael had mentioned his girlfriend when he was introducing himself.
I didn’t see him again until the next NorWesCon. We here hosting a room party again. For whatever reason, that year the room party (our room parties were always more like a writers’ group or artists’ jam than a party—for one thing, we didn’t serve alcohol) was more crowded and busy. And the shy guy from Missouri showed up again… except he didn’t come off as shy that year. He’d grown his hair out, he was much more outgoing. And he managed to mention the fact that he worked as a bartender at a gay bar a couple times.
But the first thing he said to me when coming into the room was once again, “Hi! I’m Michael.”
A couple months later, a new season of the British science fiction comedy, Red Dwarf, premiered in the U.S. with marathons on PBS stations. Ray and I hosted a watching party, which we had announced on a couple of fannish e-mail lists. And once again, when I opened the door, I got that irresistible smile and he said, “Hi! I don’t know if you remember me. I’m Michael.”
That was the last time he introduced himself to me. He hung out at the party (which got pretty crowded), and since he’d taken a bus up to Seattle from Tacoma, and the party went a bit longer than he had anticipated, he wound up crashing on our couch. By the next day he and Ray had bonded as if they had been friends for years. We gave him a ride back to Tacoma after we found out how long the bus ride would be.
He and Ray started corresponding online after that. So several weeks later, on a Friday night when Ray picked me up after work because we were going to go out, Ray said, “I think we should drive to Tacoma and surprise Michael at work.” We had a great time hanging out and meeting the regulars at the small lesbian bar where Michael was a bartender.
It got to be a fairly regular thing, where Michael would take the bus to Seattle on a day off (which were usually in the middle of the week) and meet up with Ray, or we’d go to Tacoma to meet up with Michael. Ray had had his first round of chemotherapy by then, and was no longer working. I was grateful that someone was available to hang out with Ray at least some of the times when I was at work.
He was a great friend.
And then, not long after the second round of chemotherapy (the first one had appeared to help a lot, but it hadn’t gotten everything), Ray had a seizure in the middle of the night and fell into a coma. Michael wasn’t able to make it to Seattle before Ray died.
Michael was one of a rather vast group of people who helped me deal with the aftermath of Ray’s death.
I have another confession to make. I don’t remember when I fell in love with Michael. There’s a lot during that first few months after Ray died that is very fuzzy and confused for me. I remember Michael meeting me a couple of days before Christmas to give me a Christmas present and to tell me he hoped I managed to have a good holiday at my mom’s, even though I wasn’t in a holiday mood at all that year. One of my favorite pictures of Michael was taken that holiday season in my living room, next to the Christmas tree that I almost didn’t even put up (except I had a frantic moment where I became convinced that Ray would be upset at me if I didn’t put up at least a little bit of Christmas; which was followed by a bigger panic when I thought about digging into all our Christmas stuff in the basement because I knew I would start crying and never stop, so I bought new decorations that didn’t have any memories with Ray attached to them). I don’t remember that visit at all. For various reasons, I know I didn’t take the picture that time he came up just before Christmas, but I don’t recall the visit where I took his picture.
Somewhere during all that upheaval, I realized I had fallen for him. We had one awkward week where I thought that maybe he was spending so much time with me because he felt obligated because I was grieving, so I tried extra hard not to do anything that might be considered flirty or otherwise showing that kind of interest in him. And he took my sudden emotional reticence as a signal, and he worried that the earlier signs of interest had actually been because he was taking advantage of me when I was in a fragile state. So he tried extra hard just be be a friend and nothing more. Which I interpreted as a sign that he really was not at all interested. And so on, and so on. It was like the middle act of a romantic comedy for a bit there.
But eventually I asked him out on a date. And he said, “yes.”
It was soon enough after Ray’s death that I was more than a bit nervous about how some of my other friends would react to the news that I was dating someone already. I was incredible relieved when I told Kristin, and her reaction was to grin, make a little victory motion with her hands and say, “I hoped something like that was happening! He lights up whenever you come into the room!”
Sometime long after that, he overheard me explaining to someone why I never called him Mike. “Because every time he introduced himself to me, he said, ‘Hi! I’m Michael.'” He interrupted to say that wasn’t true. So the next several times I heard him answer the phone with, “Hello, this is Michael” or saw him introduce himself to someone at writers’ night or a convention committee meeting by saying, “I’m Michael” I would catch his eye and mouth silently, “Hi, I’m Michael.”
A lot has happened since first meeting him at a science fiction convention in 1996. I could go on and on with stories about what a wonderful man he is. I know that over that time, to the extent that I have become a better person, it’s because of Michael. He’s wonderful, smart, capable, kind, unselfish, funny, and constantly helping people. He laughs easily, and he always finds ways to make other people laugh or feel better. I often suspect that most of our friends only put up with me because my weird opinions and annoying quirks are a small price to pay compared to how awesome Michael is.
And I’m okay with that, because he is so darn awesome. And I’m not just saying it because it’s his birthday.
I have one more confession to make. When I started writing this post, I titled it, “He’s my guy.” But that isn’t true. I could never “have” a man as incredibly talented, sexy, warm, loving, kind, smart, giving, compassionate, practical, unwaveringly cheerful even when he’s being cynical, unselfish, funny, charitable, or just plain incredible as Michael.
He’s not mine. I’m his.
Happy Birthday, Michael. You deserve to have the happiest and most wonderful day all of the time, but especially today.
We bought a new couch this weekend. Our old couch was a queen-sized inner spring futon mattress on a couch frame. Michael picked it out mid-2001 after putting off replacing the old hand-me-down couch Ray and I had owned for who knows how long. We went with the futon because some friends had recently purchased an inner-spring futon mattress for one of their guest rooms, and it was one of the most comfy couches I had sat on.
The first several years we had the futon, it was a nice, comfy couch. It has become less and less so since.
So we’ve been overdue to replace it, and as these sorts of household chores can go, we just kept forgetting and procrastinating. Finally on Sunday we managed to get done with laundry and other things in time to head up to a store that sells these things and get there before closing time. It didn’t take us long to pick one out, though we did have to hurry to drive down to the warehouse near the U-village to actually pick up the futon. It’s amazing how tiny (comparatively) they can package these things thanks to vacuum shrink-wrapping.
The model we got is a flat black with microfiber outer shell. We also ordered a custom cover, which will be a plush violet when it arrives. For now it doesn’t look terribly interesting, but it feels really nice to sit on.
So we didn’t go to the Northwest Science Fiction (NorWesCon) again this year. Quick background: I started attending the convention back in 1987, after being envious of friends who attended the previous few years, and I didn’t miss a single one for the next 25 years. Michael and I met at a NorWesCon. For years he has referred to NorWesCon as our anniversary, since neither of us can ever remember the date of our Commitment Ceremony (of course, both have been superseded since we were able to finally legally marry on December 9, 2012). For a couple of decades it was my habit to buy our memberships for the next year before we left the convention.
Since NorWesCon has been on Easter weekend since 1989, I have kept track of Easter by remembering when NorWesCon is going to be. I have habits built around NorWesCon. For many years, now, I spent a lot of time during the rest of the year plotting what new cocktail I will buy Keith on Saturday night at the con, because Keith almost never drinks, and it amuses all of us, including his wife, to watch him react to alcohol (and it’s tricky to find ones he will actually agree to drink more of). During the weeks leading up to the convention I start longing for the evening I’ll sit in the bar or restaurant with Juli-sans-e (not to be confused with Julie-with-an-e, who might join us with the wings, but is more likely to find ways to trick us into saying “nipple” at inappropriate times) eating plate after plate of hot wings and exchanging stories.
I could go on and on.
But, for a variety of reasons, the last few NorWesCons we attended were not much fun for either Michael or myself. And when I realized that four out of the last five we attended, I had found virtually none of the programming interesting (except for Auntie’s costuming panels). I had found it so unappealing, that I had wound up spending all of the time I wasn’t sitting in a bar or restaurant with our friends, sitting at my laptop writing.
To be fair, I got a lot of writing done each of those conventions. More than I usually get done on an ordinary weekend. But it seemed a little silly to both of us the spend all that money on a hotel room, memberships, and all of those meals at hotel restaurants, if all I was going to do was sit in a hotel room tapping away on my computer keyboard.
The one exception out of that span was the year that both Jim Butcher and Patricia McKillip were guests of honor. It’s pretty difficult for me not to enjoy hearing either of them talk about their writing.
So we skipped last year. We gave a few other local conventions we haven’t attended in a long time a try, and we enjoyed those. We would have enjoyed them more if our usual gang had been in attendance. I did miss hot wings with Juli. I really missed hanging out with the gang.
We were leaning toward coming back this year, but when we weren’t able to get certain answers we needed before the hotel room block filled up, we decided to skip again.
As it happens, another friend that I’ve been trying to get to attend finally went for the first time this year. So not only didn’t I hang out with our usual crowd and do our usual things, I didn’t get to hang out with Sheryl at the con.
I also regret missing this year because Michael Moorcock was Guest of Honor. I really like his writing, and given his age and the distance to travel to a west coast con, it’s highly unlikely I’ll get another chance to see him.
NorWesCon is almost always the same weekend as SakuraCon. My dear sweet husband was actually one of the founding SakuraCon committee members many many years ago. It’s been several years since we’ve attended it. So we had talked about the possibility of getting memberships to SakuraCon for this year, though by the time we had decided not to do NorWesCon, neither of us was feeling enthusiastic about anything. We had a couple of conversations this weekend about next year attending either SakuraCon or NorWesCon. I know we could both have fun at either. Most of our friends will be at NorWesCon, but we’ll have a few friends at SakuraCon.
A lot of people seem to be excited because George R.R. Martin is going to be the Guest of Honor at NorWesCon next year. Frankly, that makes me slightly less likely to attend. Not that I have anything against Mr Martin, it’s just that I suspect a lot of people who don’t normally attend fan-run conventions will decide to attend this one because of the television version of Game of Thrones, and the atmosphere may be more like a corporate con than a fan con. Yes, sometimes I am a fan-snob.
We need to decide soon enough that we can get the hotel rooms and everything else in order either way.
In related news, thanks to some suggestions from friends, since we were already planning to attend EverfreeNW again this summer, but we’ll stay at the hotel next door that many of us like a lot better, and since that same weekend a gaming convention, PaizoCon will be happening in that next door hotel, Michael and I now have memberships for both conventions, the same weekend. And several of our friends are doing the same. So, we’re going to be two-fisted congoers (or dual-weilding badge-holders, or something) this July.
So even though we’ve skipped NorWesCon two years in a row, I think we’re holding onto our geek/nerd/fanboy cred.
Muppet Christ, Superstar is a parody depicting what it might sound like if the Muppets did a version of Jesus Christ, Superstar. Christo Graham sings all the parts. His Kermit is a bit of a stretch, but his Miss Piggy is pretty spot on.
I nearly died while listening to Miss Piggy Singing “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.”
The songs are available for download from Bandcamp. Or you can listen to them here.
Pete LaBarbera, head of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (an organization designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center since 2010, among others), has the colorful nickname “Porno Pete” among gay and liberal bloggers because he is famous for going to churches and showing slide shows of photos he takes at places like the International Mister Leather Conference and similar events of men scantily clad in leather and fetish gear. He makes a big deal in his talks and on his website about how he disguises himself and sneaks in undercover to these events to get these shocking pictures and reveal the hidden truth. Which he then posts all over his organization’s website, includes in all his mailings begging for donations, and displays in those slide shows.
Why that is so hilarious is that the IML conference, the Folsom Street Fair, and the pride events he “sneaks into” are all open to the public. Furthermore, all of those events encourage their members to send in the pictures they themselves take at events to post on their web sites. You can go to the IML website and find links to attendees’ Instagram streams of themselves and their partners in all their naughty gear. In other words, he doesn’t need to go in disguise. He doesn’t need to sneak in. He doesn’t even need to attend in order to get all these shocking pictures. He can just go to a few social media sites and search on a few hashtags to gather all the shocking pictures he wants.
So in addition to being a hate monger (he and his organization continue to quote long-debunked and wholly disproven “research” claiming that all gay people are pedophiles, that being gay is caused by incest, that kids who come out as gay will rape their siblings, et cetera, et cetera) and a sleazeball who leverages prurient imagery to titillate and shock in order to manipulate people into donating to his cause, he’s also a liar. Because he isn’t sneaking into any of these places. He isn’t uncovering things that people are trying to keep hidden.
On Friday he was briefly detained at the Canadian border because the literature he was carrying with him appeared to violate Canada’s hate speech laws. Not surprising, given how hateful his stuff usually is. Eventually they decided to let him and his papers enter the country, but he spent the entire weekend appearing on every rightwing radio show and so forth that he could, talking up how horribly he was treated and how the Canadian policies violated his religious liberty.
He has since escalated, having gone to a university to distribute his literature and spout off his hate. And when he was asked to leave, he refused, then proceeded to kicked up a fuss until the police were called to arrest him. I think he assumed he would be released on his own recognizance right away, just like the Canadian anti-abortion/anti-gay activist who was arrested with him. But he’s been held in custody until he can face a deportation hearing.
Given his long-running history of using lies, titillating imagery, and shocking “facts” to attract attention and donations, one must conclude that this was all on purpose. We know from tax filings of most of the other anti-gay organizations that donations have been plummeting the last several years. Support for gay rights in general and gay marriage in particular has been going up, up, up throughout the country.
We also know he’s done this sort of thing before: picking fights with audience members at the speaking events of gay rights activists, getting removed by police, then going on the rightwing talk circuit to explain how he was abused “merely for stating his religious beliefs.”
He isn’t merely stating his beliefs. Demonizing gay people has been his livelihood for about two decades. For nearly twenty years he has earned his living by doing things like convince evangelical and fundamentalist parents that they must kick their gay kids out or bully them (often leading to suicide), then turn around and use those gay homeless teen death and gay teen suicide statistics to beg for more donations and convince more parents to abuse and reject their children.
And now the money seems to be drying up. So, sitting in a jail cell in a nice, civilized country like Canada is probably a smart move. It will amp up the sympathy from that shrinking rightwing base. It will get him appearances on radio and TV shows where if he doesn’t get paid, he’ll at least get free advertising. It will probably land him some new paid speaking gigs. Donations will take an uptick for a while.
A few nights being held by the mounties in a low security cell is a very small price to pay for that.
One of my grandfathers had a coffee mug that was “his” mug. No one else used Grandpa’s mug. It was a yellow mug, but not a really bright yellow. Very similar to the one pictured here.
It was nearly identical in shape to a set of sage green and brown mugs that matched grandma’s everyday plates. That particular shape of stackable coffee mug was very popular when I was a kid. My other grandparents had a set that was very similar in a dark blue—though the bottom, narrow section of the mug was a little taller. And my parents had a set that was a darker, brownish-yellow than grandpa’s, was a gradient of the dark yellow at the top of the mug, becoming dark chocolate brown by the bottom. I remember seeing similar mugs at the homes of many friends.
But, as I said, Grandpa’s mug was different. It was only for Grandpa to use. No one got yelled at if you used Grandpa’s mug by mistake, it was just someone would say, “You can’t use Grandpa’s cup!” or something. Grandpa would laugh if someone else used it. He’d say something like, “Just tell me you didn’t put it in the dishwasher! Never wash my coffee cup, only rinse it!”