Tag Archive | birthday

Snap, crackle, pop isn’t just about cereal

Tweet from @AaronLinguini: “*demon tries to inhabit my body* Demon: OUCH Me: yeah... Demon: WHAT THE HELL Me: I know Demon: EVERYTHING HURTS, WHY?? AND WHATS WRONG WITH THIS SHOULDER??? Me: idk man, can I offer you a mint?”

From Aaron Ansuini (@AaronLinguini). Click to embiggen.

Yeah, I used the graphic recently, but it’s appropriate. I need to do a real NorWesCon review this week, but today we’ll stick to one discovery I made.

On Monday morning, after our fourth night sleeping at the con, my husband was up and had already carried some things out to the car when I woke up. Most other mornings he had gotten up before me, gotten dressed, ran off to do his staff job, and sometimes came back as I was getting moving to see if I wanted to go to breakfast. So Monday was the first morning he was there the entire time I was doing my initial get up and get ready shuffle.

He kept expressing concern, asking if I was all right, a lot during the process. I attributed it to him feeling tired because he never sleeps well away from home, and he had been very busy all weekend. So I thought it was a bit of projection: I didn’t feel quite right, so he assumed I didn’t, either.

But when we were almost done loading the car, he asked again, with a really concerned tone of voice. So I asked him did I look bad? Why was he asked.

“You were complaining a lot while moving around this morning.”

I explained that that was just the usual thing: my joints are always stiff when I first wake up until I’ve been moving around for a while. And I always mutter to myself while doing certain tasks. “I just had that in my hand a minute ago… oh, there you are!” and so on.

“You weren’t just groaning! You were dropped the F-bomb several times”

And I had an epiphany. On weekdays, he leaves for work about three hours before my alarm goes off. Then on weekends, he sleeps in. So he’s almost never around during that time when I’m just getting up and moving. Apparently in the last couple years I’ve gone from just groaning when I reach for something and my shoulder protests. I now mutter bad words along with the groaning.

Now, I probably did it a bit more than usual Monday, because I also don’t sleep very well when I’m not in my own bed, so by the fourth night of sleeping at the hotel, I was also feeling less than fully rested. I was also trying to pack, which meant lifting and moving a lot more things than I’m usually handling during a typical get-up-and-get-ready-for-work routine.

The truth is I am getting older, and parts of my body just don’t work as well as they used to. I own several folding canes and keep them stashed around. This started in the early days of my pre-diabetic treatment. When I started eating a low-carb diet I started having random gout flare-ups where suddenly just trying to walk on whichever foot was having the flare-up was extremely painful. I almost never have random flare-ups any more, thanks to more adjustments to my diet and medications, but some days the ankle that had all the torn tendons a few years ago starts hurting when I put weight on it. Or the knee (in the other leg) that got banged up really bad a couple of different times gets a little unreliable.

Those are more likely to happen in certain kinds of weather, or when there has been a significant weather change. Someone watching might notice me having a slight limp on one side or the other for part of a day, or if it gets bad, I get out one of the canes.

Similarly, because of scar tissue in one inner ear, when there are fast changes in the local barometric pressure, I get to hear all sorts of buzzes and clicks and whistles and pops on one side only. That one can get particularly surreal, since ordinarily that’s the ear I can barely hear anything with.

Of course, I’m not the only person who mutters while doing things. Michael does it, too, and it can get particularly comedic if we’re both hurrying around the house trying to get something done. “What did you say?” “Nothing, just talking to myself.” Over and over and over again.

When we got home and we were both doing it again while unpacking–it was worse because home is much bigger than the hotel room, and so we’re often further apart and in different rooms making it even harder to tell whether the other person is trying to get our attention, or just talking to themself. I had to tease him about it, particularly since today is his birthday. For the next five months, he’s only nine years younger than me, instead of the usual ten.

Catching up with me!

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More confessions of an aging homo devil

“I'm not playing a role. I'm being myself, whatever the hell that is.” —Bea Arthur

“I’m not playing a role. I’m being myself, whatever the hell that is.”
—Bea Arthur

When I was a kid, I was always being told to stop acting “like that.” It wasn’t usually that I was hurting someone or playing with with something that they thought I would break. It was usually because of things like the time my dad caught me singing along to the “My Own Home” song from Disney’s animated Jungle Book—I had a towel or blanket wrapped around me, like the girl in the movie was wearing, and an empty milk jug balanced on my head. I know, now, that the reason I was so into that song was because 5-year-old me had a crush on the cartoon version of Mowgli. And clearly Dad suspected the same thing.

Admonishments about me acting in a manner inappropriate for my gender and/or age came from Dad and certain other relatives, plus teachers, and of course classmates. Such admonitions were often accompanied with more than just verbal abuse. They kept coming even after my parents divorced and I moved 1200 miles away from Dad. Grade-school and middle-school kids can tease and bully cruelly, but it’s nothing compared to the lengths teen-age boys will go. Just like the teachers who had told my parents earlier that there was nothing they could do about the bullying as long as I “talked like that and acted like that,” the guys who targeted me in my teens and twenties would tell me it was my own fault. If I just would stop “acting like that” they’d leave me alone.

It wasn’t just me this happened to. I still remember a news commentary show that I used to love watching on PBS, when they covered the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979. If you look at historical pictures of the immense crowd, you will see huge numbers of men and women dressed in polo shirts and slacks or t-shirts and blue jeans. There wasn’t a lot of people in glitter or marching nearly naked. But the only footage this news show included in their coverage were shots of the very few individuals (and it was a tiny minority—this wasn’t a Pride Parade, this was a coordinated activist event that thousands of people traveled cross country to participate in) who were dressed very flamboyantly. And one of the pundits on the panel said something along the line of, “if the homosexual community wants civil rights, they should stop acting like that.”

Even though I was deeply closeted at the time, I wondered why queer people needed to earn their rights. The definition of a civil right is that you are entitled to it regardless.

At some point during the process of coming out I had the epiphany that they did genuinely believe that it was an act. I mean, I had one relative angrily yell at me after I came out that I was just “doing it for attention.” Right? Why would anyone want to be publicly known as being a member of a group that is regularly targeted for violence just for fun?

I still don’t know all the little behaviors and verbal ticks about me that set some people off. Given how many times since I came out, even during my Big Earring Phase, other people would mistake a woman friend as my wife, I know that the I’m not that gender nonconforming. Regardless, it isn’t an act. It has never been an act. It’s me being me. Yeah, I like to sing along to songs that I like. I like to dance, even though I know I’m not good at it and even if I’m just by my self. I like wear bright colors—including pink and purple. I love purple anything. I get excited and nerdy as f—k about things I love. I cry out loud at sad or poignant scenes in books, movies, or television episodes I watch (heck, I cry at some commercials!). I don’t often wear makeup, but I know how to put on mascara and eye-liner and I’m not ashamed of it. I grow flowers. I make my own flower arrangements for the house.

And yeah, I’m a guy who likes men. I have fallen love with a couple them over the years. And that isn’t an act either. That’s just me being me.

One of the reasons I’m thinking about this right now is because an old friend who has moved back to the town where we went to high school together, ran into one of my cousins that still lives back there, and was a little appalled when said cousin mentioned being glad I don’t visit often because “he just acts gayer and gayer every time I see him.” Probably a good thing I wasn’t there. Because I probably would have said, “Honey, I ain’t acting!”

The only time I was acting was back when I was trying to avoid more bullying or ridicule, trying to force myself not to do the few things I had figured out qualified as “acting like that.” When I was closeted and scared to death to be myself, that’s when I was acting.

This post is going up late because today is my birthday. I took the day off from work. I slept in. I spent much of the day reading or just watching the birds at the feeder, and the larger jays and squirrel rummage threw the spillage on the deck under the feeder. My husband left a bunch of gift bags scattered around the house, and a couple of packages from my mom were here, so every now and then I would open one. It was a fun way to spend the day. My husband took me to dinner at one of my favorite local eateries. He made me a martini (he makes the best—when we first started dating he was working as a bartender, but oddly enough, he doesn’t like to drink himself).

It has been a good birthday.

I’ve written before of how the AIDS crisis (which began when I was a closeted 20-something and was still ravaging the community by the time I was out in my thirties) had made me feel I was unlikely to live into my fifties. When you go to 16 funerals over the course of a few months, mourning guys who are dying in their twenties, thirties, and forties—it just feels as if the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head. It really did seem that it wasn’t a matter of whether one would get sick, just when.

And so I find myself a bit surprised and a lot grateful to celebrate this birthday. I’m getting close to 60, and I honestly didn’t believe back then I would make it to 50.

So I am happy and thankful. Especially this year and this week. Yesterday morning at work we all learned that a guy we all work with (and a guy who is a couple of years younger than I) suffered a fatal cardiac arrest on Sunday. I usually close my birthday posts with some bit of wisdom or advice. This year, I’m going to quote one of my other co-workers while we were all processing the news together: “It reminds us to treat everyone with kindness and respect, because we never know which conversation will be our last.”

Confessions of an aging homo devil

“Old age ain't no place for sissies.” —Bette Davis

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies.” —Bette Davis

One of the less toxic stereotypes ascribed to gay men is an intense fear of getting old. When I was a mostly-closetted queer guy in my 20s I heard it frequently from other gay men. “Oh, no! He turned 30, that’s 60 in gay years!” and so on. The explanation of the stereotype is that gay men are obsessed with young and/or young-looking romantic partners, and fear they will stop being desirable themselves once they pass some arbitrary age. Even back then, I thought it was a bit strange to say that this was a gay-only thing, because for how long have middle-aged and older actors been paired with actresses significantly younger than themselves playing their spouses, love interests, et cetera? And back when I was a kid and a teen, it was very common in comedy TV shows and movies to have at least one woman who was obsessed with her own age to insist in face of overwhelming evidence that she was only 29 years old. Seems to me that heterosexual men are pretty youth-obsessed, right?

Please note that I said this stereotype is only somewhat less toxic than many others about queer men.

So a few years ago when I mentioned in blog post that it was my birthday and my age (it was 53 or 54, but I don’t feel like going on an obsessive search to try to find the specific post), some random person I didn’t know commented about how broken-hearted I must be, since everyone knows that fags are all obsessed with being young. I typed a reply to the effect that no, I actually considered myself quite lucky. But then I decided that rather than argue with a troll the better thing to do was to simple delete the troll’s comment and move on.

But I keep running into people making this specific observation, or variants of it. A gay activist who is a frequent guest on news programs passes the age of 50 and all the anti-gay hatemongers start referring to him as an “aging activist.” This is pretty rich coming from a completely white-haired anti-gay pastor who is pushing 70, let me tell you. If a 50-year-old is “aging,” what do we call a 68-year-old, hmmmmm?

So, I’m still a couple years from 60, yet, and I know that I frequently make references to my age, mostly because 1) I am older than the average people active on the internet, 2) I’m older than the average age of people active in the various fandoms I participate in, and 3) I frequently find myself being a little boggled at people who otherwise seem really well informed being completely unaware of (or deeply misinformed about) fairly major things that happened in the world when I was, say, in my 20s.

I was still very closeted in my early 20s when the AIDS crisis began. This mysterious illness was striking gay men down, and not only did the White House Press Secretary laugh and make a fag joke when a reporter asked about the first Center for Disease Control alert about the illness, but all of the rest of the reporters in the room joined in on the laughter. One night at a church service I was sitting with my head bowed when a pastor went on a long digression in his prayer thanking god for sending the scourge of AIDS to punish the wickedness of gay people and wipe them from the face of the Earth. 10 years later, as an out gay man, I found myself going to memorial services of men sometimes younger than I. One particularly bad winter, 16 different people we knew died in a single three-month period. It really did seem that every gay person was doomed. And it didn’t seem to matter that we all now knew to practice safe sex—because condoms can break, and so on.

As much of an optimist as I’ve always been, in the face of all the overwhelming chilling life experience, I seriously doubted that I would live to see my 50s.

So, I am not in the slightest bit sad or embarrassed to have reached the “ripe” age of 57. I’m not sad that my beard is mostly white, because I’ve earned every one of these grey hairs! I’m not ecstatic that some of the medical issues I’ve always had are getting worse as I get older. I’m not joyful when I read about the death of someone (famous or not) that I’ve known and admired for years. I know that that is going to happen more often, that’s just the natural consequence of the passing of time.

Getting older has its drawbacks, yes. But the alternative is worse, right? So I say, “Bring it on!”

Among my role models growing up was a very cantankerous paternal great-grandmother (who taught me how to listen in on the neighbors’ on the party line phone, among other fun things) and an even more ornery maternal great-grandfather (whose jobs when he was younger had included driving souped up cars, including sometimes outrunning the police, to deliver illegal alcohol during Prohibition). Both of them said and did things around us kids back then that embarrassed their own children (my grandparents and great-aunts and great-uncles), and I fully intend, if I’m lucky enough to live as long as them, to similarly embarrass some of my younger relatives and acquaintances.

On ocassions such as birthdays, one is often asked to share some words of wisdom. I’m going to give you two pieces of advice, one from each of the aforementioned great-grandparents:

“Life is too short to carry grudges or worry about what other people think of you.”

“Never let the revenuers piss on your parade.”

Act my age?

I see NO good reason to act my ag

I see NO good reason to act my age!

Ah, September! That most blessèd month! When the oppressive, destructive heat of summer begins to abate, the leaves on deciduous trees turn to autumnal colors, a new school year begins (at least in the U.S.), and new network TV shows premiere. The autumnal equinox has come. My tomato plants are dying and many of the flowering plants have lost their blooms and are going to seed. Which means that decorating season approaches!

September also means my birthday… that’s right. Today I am officially another year older.

It isn’t one of the big, decade shift birthdays. The big five-oh was a half dozen years ago, and the bigger six-oh is still a few years off. But for some reason as this one approached, it was feeling more like a major turning point than usual. Maybe I was being a little bit psychic and knew that we’d find out just before the birthday that our building was going up for sale and there might well be very big changes in our living situation by the end of this lease period.

Or maybe my subconscious knew that my first birthday after Dad’s death would churn up feelings. Which would be understandable if we had had a normal parent-child relationship. But since he virtually never called or otherwise acknowledged my birthday (sometimes my stepmother would send a birthday card — at least once she made him sign it), is surprising. To be fair, I almost never sent a card on-time to him on his birthday, even though it was only six days after mine.

What usually happened is at some point in September I’d make a little promise to myself that this year I would buy and mail him a card by my birthday. And then I wouldn’t think about it again until several days after my birthday—sadly what would happen is I would realize I barely had time to get a birthday card in the mail to my grandmother, which would remind me that Dad’s birthday was a few days before her and that meant it was already too late to get a card to him by his day. So the few years he did get something from me, it would arrive a few days late.

Of course, because he’s gone, I probably won’t be asked a dozen times if I’ve heard from him. That has been a common occurrence on every birthday and major holiday for decades: relatives asking if I’ve heard from my Dad, then reacting with varying degrees of sadness, surprise, and disappointment to my reaction to the question. It didn’t seem to matter what my reaction was, whether I simply said, “no” or if I was a bit more forthcoming, “Naw, I haven’t talked to him in, uh, six years?” They were always dismayed. Even the few times when I could say, “I got a card in the mail” didn’t go over well.

I get it. These are relatives who go to the trouble to call all their siblings, children, nieces & nephews, et cetera on their birthdays and such. That’s why they’re contacting me to wish me a happy birthday, after all. My mom’s side of the family has always been big about birthdays and anniversaries. So I get why they’re always at least surprised.

It’s nice to be wished well and reminded that I’m loved. Which I have been.

So far what I’ve done to celebrate is get together with friends to go see a cool movie that opened on Friday: the remake of the remake of The Seven Samurai. Appropriately enough, the first American remake, The Magnificent Seven with Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, Charles Bronson, and Eli Wallach premiered in theatres just a couple weeks after I was born. It was a movie that was shown on TV many times during my childhood, and it seemed like everyone I knew loved it as much as I did. So when I saw a remake was coming out with Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Vincent D’Onofrio, and a bunch of other stars, I knew I had to go see it.

It was fun. It was great to meet friends for dinner, drinks, and a movie. Saturday Michael took me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant. Today we’re getting together with one of my gaming groups to do some Victorian sci fi adventuring. I have also taken Monday off from work, and I’m planning to pretend tomorrow is Sunday and watch the football game that my DVR will be recording while we’re gaming today.

I don't know how to act my age. I've never been this age before.

I don’t know how to act my age. I’ve never been this age before.

I’ve gotten some cool presents, which are always fun. Two different people got me wonderful socks. I love comfy, colorful socks! I’ve also gotten a hand knitted scarf, an old movie I love, cool figurines, my very own Tardis key, brilliant purple ink, some books. Getting anything is always great! I can’t show off the big present from my husband, yet. He had me try it on and pick out which model I wanted on Friday, but we had to order it and wait for it to be shipped.

Whenever I write a birthday post, I always feel like I should end with some words of wisdom. This year I’m feeling even less wise than usual. It has not been a pleasant year for, well, anyone that I know. I’ve been having a particularly difficult time not breaking the “Don’t be a dick” rule, myself—I’ve outright busted it several times, and that’s all on me. It feels like a year of broken things, especially connections.

So I guess this year’s advice is this: try. Try to be kind. Try to be forgiving. Try to pick up the pieces when you can. You never know which conversation with someone will be your last, so try not to let it be one you’ll regret.

Birthday not very quizzacious

One side of the table during my birthday get-together at AFK Tavern.

One side of the table during my birthday get-together at AFK Tavern.

This year my age is equally divisible by 5, so it feels like a milestone birthday—even if only a middling one. I took the day itself off rather than do my usual work-from-home day, and I was mildly lazy. I drove my hubby in to work as I usually do on a work from home day, but when I got home instead of going inside to log into the work network, I just sat down on the porch steps with my travel mug full of coffee and let the drizzle come down on me.

I love overcast days with light rain. It’s my very favorite weather, so it was like nature was giving me a birthday present. I posted to twitter and got caught up on personal email until I was out of coffee. But the weather was so nice that after I unlocked the door and refilled my coffee, I grabbed one of our cloth folding/picnic chairs and my iPad and went back onto the porch. I sat there, reading, visiting with a neighbor, watching three bluebirds have a fight, and so forth for for a few hours… Read More…

Friday Links (quizzaciously exceptional birthday edition)

I haven't been this old before, it's true! (click to embiggen)

I haven’t been this old before, it’s true! (click to embiggen)

It’s already the fourth Friday in September, that most blessèd month! The autumnal equinox has occurred and I check my calendar to see what’s next and… oh, that’s right. Today I am officially another year older. Wow. How did that happen?

And thank goodness it’s FRIDAY!

Anyway, here is a collection of some of the things that I ran across over the course of the week which struck me as worthy of being shared:

Link of the Week

Man Builds ‘Dog Train’ To Take Rescued Pups Out On Little Adventures.

This week in Not as Noble as They Want You to Think

Seth Godin on Ad Blocking.

Ad Blocking Irony.

The Mobile Video Ad Lie: NYPost.com site loads 10Mb on iPhone, with no videos or video ads to be seen.

How Much of Your Audience is Fake? Marketers thought the Web would allow perfectly targeted ads. Hasn’t worked out that way.

John Gruber on why online ad networks are so user-hostile.

This week in Bad History

22 Hilarious Excerpts From Scathing Reviews of “Stonewall.”

A ‘straight-acting’ problem: why mass market gay films increasingly fail us all.

This week in Evil Greedy People

A Huge Overnight Increase in a Drug’s Price Raises Protests.

Science!

Riddle of the Ages Solved: Where Did the Philistines Come From?

New duck-billed dinosaur found in Alaska, researchers say.

On World Rhino Day 2015, Some Things about Rhinos You Might Not Know.

Medieval skeleton found in roots of toppled tree VIDEO.

World’s Oldest Sea Turtle Fossil Discovered.

Siberia could become pockmarked with giant craters: Global warming is releasing ‘explosive and violent’ levels of methane under the ground, warn experts.

No Sign of Galactic Super-Civilizations.

The astonishing village where little girls turn into boys aged 12.

Scientists found something unexpected in this eerie new image of Pluto.

Linking brains: Researchers at UW say they’ve done it.

State Officials Are Preparing for Another Year of Continued Drought.

Science Fiction, Fantasy and Speculation!

Your body isn’t your world: The heroes of Mad Max and disability.

The Six Swans.

Some thoughts about Tragic Queer Narratives.

They Don’t Stand For That: Symbols, Vampires, and Faith.

Comics historian Craig Yoe celebrates Banned Books Week with the Forbidden Comics bundle.

11 Sci-Fi Books Every Woman Should Read. I’ve only read 3½ of these!

This week in Geek

15 Minutes of Fame: The AFK Tavern, where everybody knows your name.

Culture war news:

This is why they have such hate: Coulter, Trump, Carson and the real history behind right-wing intolerance. This is an awesome historical analysis of the trajectory of anti-semetism, anti-Papism and other sources of rightwing thought…

This Guy Shut Down The World’s Largest Gay “Cure” Group.

Harlem Hate Pastor Has Must-Watch Manic Meltdown at Protestors Outside His Church.

That “Old Time Religion” Isn’t As Old As You Think.

TIFF Review: Roland Emmerich’s Gay Rights Drama ‘Stonewall’.

‘Gay’ Doritos Prompt Freak-Out.

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies.

Not for Queer Eyes Only.

See How Religious Homophobia Promotes Child Abuse.

Emails show Indiana damaged by religious liberty law.

Kim Davis’ Book Deal? It’s Not Happening. There’s a word missing from that headline, “yet”

The Search for Kim Davis’s Gay Friends.

Kim Davis’s One Gay Friend Is Angry.

Defiant clerk Kim Davis confiscated and altered all the marriage licences issued while she was in jail. Bonus points if you can name all the subtle and not-so-subtle biases in the story…

Stop calling Pope Francis progressive: You might love his pastoral style, but don’t fool yourself on Vatican substance.

This Week in the Clown Car

The Ted Cruz Problem Is the Reason Trump Ducks — and Must Duck — the Obama Birther Question.

Colbert bests Trump.

Fiorina Spins a New Lie, and Her Issues With Truth Look Compulsive.

This week in Other Politics:

Obama has vastly changed the face of the federal bureaucracy.

The GOP’s Deeply Bigoted Week.

McConnell makes first move to avoid shutdown.

The War to End Slavery Didn’t.

One big reason Congress ignores the poor: they don’t vote.

This Week in Diversity

“I’m afraid of men on the Internet.”

Hillary Clinton To Lena Dunham: I’m ‘Puzzled’ By Women Who Say They Aren’t Feminists.

Why Asking Is Not ‘Outing’ in 2015.

Goshen College withdraws from Council of Christian Colleges and Universities following changes to LGBT non-discrimination policy, hiring practices.

Gender Liberation: Leaving Men Behind.

If You Think ‘Straight-Acting’ Is An Acceptable Term, You’re An A**hole.

Here’s Why We Need To Stop Calling Pumpkin Spice A ‘White People Thing.’

News for queers and our allies:

Editorial: Two more small steps for gay rights.

A Scottish boy couldn’t stand a preacher’s homophobic rant, so he whipped out his bagpipes.

The LGBT+ community doesn’t need fair-weather allies.

9 questions about gender identity and being transgender you were too embarrassed to ask.

On Loving a Bisexual Man.

Farewells:

Jack Larson (1928-2015).

The Washington Post: How ‘Superman’ ruined a gay actor’s life — then saved it. Jack Larson (‘Jimmy Olsen’) dead at 87.

Yogi Berra: businessman and gay-rights advocate was more than a lovable dope.

Things I wrote:

Weekend Update 9/20/2015: Otters and Bi-people.

Scene Essentials.

Invisible? Difficult to see what others have erased.

The Original Wizard School – more of why I love sf/f.

Videos!

The Zipf Mystery:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Cabaret – willkommen (because some days you just need Alan Cumming to sing to you):

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

Disclosure – Jaded:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

DRAGON CON 2015 – PART 1 – EPIC COSPLAY PARTY:

(If embedding doesn’t work, click here.)

A most excellent man

We’d gathered at a friend’s place for gaming, and we were reminded not to turn on a particular light switch because the fixture needed replacing. My husband, Michael, pointed at it and said something along the lines of, “Is there a hardware store nearby?”

“We were going to get someone to come in and—” the friend began.

Michael had already pulled a multitool from his pocket and was checking the wires. “Naw, this will take me a couple minutes, tops.”

Michael and the friend walked to a nearby store while the rest of us set up food and reviewed what happened the previous gaming session. When they got back, Michael set to work.

One of the other friends there looked at me and said, “You’re married to MacGuyver!”

Before I could answer, another one of the friends there said, “You’re just now figuring that out?”

Fixing some badly mangled wires and installing a new fixture is not a super complicated task, obviously (though the number different kinds of things my husband can repair, refurbish, or build is a quite impressive). No, the extraordinary thing is how blithely and eagerly he jumps into such tasks, and the fact that he’s always got a number of tools, spare parts, et al handy.

Sometimes I think he physically feels pain when he sees a machine not functioning correctly. He certainly empathizes strongly with people who are struggling with a device that isn’t working properly. I’m constantly finding computers, phones, or other gadgets stashed around the house in various states of repair he’s got in process. When I ask, about half the time he says, “so-and-so needs a better computer/phone/iPod so I’m trying to get them something newer and more reliable.”

When he doesn’t have someone specifically in mind for a device, he says, “I figured if I get it fixed, I’ll start checking around to see if someone could benefit from the upgrade.”

And those are just a few of his more obvious sterling character traits. I’ve written a few times before about what an incredibly sweet, kind, smart, talented, knowledgeable, skilled, patient, and funny person my husband is. And I am hardly the only person who thinks he’s awesome.

I hope you have a happy birthday, Michael. You’ve more than earned it!

…and a sonic screwdriver!

A whole bunch of people joined us for a birthday dinner.

A whole bunch of people joined us for a birthday dinner. I’m the weirdo in the stocking cap waving at the camera. (Click to embiggen)

So I had a good birthday.

On the day itself, Michael left two presents for me to find while I was getting ready to go to work: a polo shirt with the Tardis embroidered on it, and the War Doctor’s sonic screwdriver. There was also a very sweet card that made me a bit teary-eyeed. He knows me so well! When I got home from work there was a much sillier card, and two more presents: a string of Tardis lights (we might end up doing another science fiction themed Christmas tree, at this rate), and in a plot twist I didn’t see coming, a pair of Princess Bride pint beer glasses.

It's a sonic screwdriver? Need a lot of shelves put up?

It’s a sonic screwdriver! Need a lot of shelves put up?

Then we walked up to my favorite restaurant for dinner. As often happens there, they gave me extra full glasses of wine. Both of my favorite waitresses were there. I had learned last year when we had my birthday dinner there that one of the waitresses has her birthday the day before mine, so I got to wish her a happy birthday. Even though I didn’t have room for dessert, they insisted I take home a slice of chocolate cake.

I had invited a bunch of our friends to meet us at AFK Tavern (where so many of our group outings happen) on Saturday afternoon. Since I needed to make reservations before everyone had time to let me know whether they would be there, I had to guess. We wound up with three more people than my upper-end guesstimate, so you will notice in the first picture we’re a bit squeezed in.

IMG_3167I had a lot of fun. This was the first time at AFK for Julie, Julie’s Mike, Jon, Sheryl, Chuck, and Mark, I believe. I only had three Fluttershy Mai Tais, plus a pint of Swill (which is actually a really delicious ale).

We were there about four hours.

IMG_0825I got a bunch of presents. A cool plant (which is going into the office, I think; I’ve had a window for over a year and keep saying I need a plant or two, so here goes!), a set of Tardis & Dalek salt & pepper shakers, the Firefly edition of Clue (which I didn’t even know existed!), a Seahawks stocking cap, two pairs of dark maroon/purple fuzzy socks (in men’s size!), iTunes gift card, not to mention some really cool cards.

IMG_3165My big present from Michael is still on its way. After years of me being unsuccessful at finding a Smith-Corona Silent-Super model manual typewriter in pink with white keys (sometimes called the “Easter Edition”) that was in at a price I could afford or had not already sold to someone else, he found one. It’s not in pristine condition, but the place that sells it does a lot of manual typewriter restorations and has a good reputation, so when they say it is in working order, that they’ve cleaned and serviced it, et cetera, I believe them.

I had a great time. I was so glad that so many folks could join us.

It was a fantastic birthday!

Feeling lucky

Some mornings I wake up, it’s dark, the clock radio may have started playing NPR’s Morning Edition, which means the alarm will be going off soon. Which does not fill me with joy, because I’m never quite ready to wake up and get out of bed.

But about then my husband comes back into the bedroom. He goes into work earlier than I do, needing to leave before my alarm even goes off. Anyway, he walks into the room, he may turn on the lights because he’s looking for something, or he may just need to grab one thing. The important thing is he walks into the room, and a fun thing happens.

I remember that I’m married to that man.

It’s not like I have amnesia or something, but there’s a part of me that is always pleasantly surprised to remember that I’m not alone. Not only am I not alone, but I have the best husband in the world. He’s smart. He’s funny. He’s sweet. He’s cute. He’s sexy. He’s very practical. One of my friends once described Michael as the most capable person he’s ever known. He can fix things—all kinds of things!—and he likes doing it. He can take a pile of fresh vegetables and turn it into several very neat piles of very nicely sliced vegetables in the amount of time a normal person would spend deciding which knife to use. He cooks. He cleans. He puts up with me (not exactly the easiest person to get along with). He puts up with all my weird hobbies and projects. He’s cheerful, even after living with me for over 16 years. His response to any disaster is not, “how can I fix this,” but rather, “I have a plan to deal with this.”

And did I mention that he’s sexy?

As if having this wonderful man in my life wasn’t already more good fortune than I deserve, my life has also been graced with a large assortment of wonderful friends. It’s hard to know where to begin, but here goes: Read More…

He’s my guy, and I love him

Copyright © 2014 Gene Breshears

Michael posing with his Easter basket.

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.

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