Inappropriate sharing, incomprehensible ramblings, uncalled-for hostility: yup, it's a blog.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Occam's Razor of vulgarity

Here's a video featuring "The 100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time."

Yes. Right. Okay, I'll concede that Rhett's "Frankly my dear..." response is probably the greatest single insult ever, and that Clark Gable's delivery of the line is perfect--just enough contempt, regret, resignation and dismissal.

The rest of the '100 Greatest Movie Insults of All Time' is suspect, tho. Only one Groucho insult? No Addison DeWitt from All About Eve? No The Third Man cuckoo clock love? Whatever.

What the compilation does have is vulgarity. There's more 'fucks' in this thing than there are at a high school prom. More 'cocks' than a NRA meeting. Not complaining.

When I was younger, adults, filled with high moral fiber, assured me that "it takes creativity to express thoughts without using vulgar language." Because of the high moral fiber, they were predictably regular in crapping out shitty advice.

I dare you to find a more creative insult than, "To give you a lobotomy, someone would have to be willing to suck the shit out of your ass." Or "Go take a flying fuck at a rolling donut!"

Sure, Shakespeare or Dorothy Parker construct nice insults, but they aimed for the roof and not the foundation. When you're reaching for an insulting phrase, aim for the gutter; it's closer to the foundation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

To Eternity, and Beyond!

Last night, we went with another couple to see 'Toy Story 3.'

One half of the Another Couple arrived at the theater first. I'll call him Errol, because why not. Errol was already on the second floor of the theater, near the giant windows overlooking Lincoln Square. He'd lost weight since I last saw him; he insisted he'd actually gained 7 pounds, so I wondered if maybe the light made him thinner.

I'll go ahead and give his current boyfriend a name. I'll call him David.

So Errol and I waited on Greg and David to arrive, and small-talked while sitting on a bench as the thinning sunlight rushed through the giant windows. I didn't have much to say, but warned Errol I'd probably cry during the movie. For about a year or so, everything has made me cry; just reading the reviews of 'Toy Story 3' had made me tear up. It's a trait I get from my mother, I think--she used to weep uncontrollably over TV commercials for long distance phone services. Like this one:

Doesn't make me cry, but who am I to judge? I recently got choked up watching a '30 Rock' rerun, which I'm sure is the exact opposite reaction one is to have when watching that show.

Errol was kind. "Oh, I expect to cry," he said, eying two cute guys across from us. "The gays are out in force today," he whispered, winking.

I winked back, then continued. "There might be sobbing. Loud, uncontrollable sobbing."

"There might," he replied politely.

"Where's Greg?" I asked. "He said he'd be here early."

"And David sent me a text he was downstairs ten minutes ago."

David showed up first, with Greg not far behind. We handed over our tickets to the ticket-taking-person (can one still call these indifferent teenagers 'ushers'?), got our 3-D glasses (don't get me started) and walked to the auditorium for 'Toy Story 3'.

Which started after several disappointing real estate ads and a few lame coming attractions.

[New York Times review]
Therein lies its genius, and its uncanny authenticity. A tale that captured the romance and pathos of the consumer economy, the sorrows and pleasures that dwell at the heart of our materialist way of life, could only be told from the standpoint of the commodities themselves, those accretions of synthetic substance and alienated labor we somehow endow with souls.

Re: The crying thing. Seriously. I'm doing it all the time now.

It started around the time I was working my way through the 'Claudius' novels, the two books written by Robert Graves about Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus this-that-and-the-other.

I was 1/3 thru the first of these two 'Claudius' books when I noticed it: commercials were making me cry. Then cheap, throw-away episodes of sit-coms brought tears to my eyes. Half-way thru 'I, Claudius,' I caught myself cradling Waffles while watching a rerun of 'The Simpsons,' crying over a Lisa plot.

The two 'Claudius' books describe the decline and fall of a once-great society. Graves, a Brit, wrote the books in the late 1930s, after the fall of the British empire. The books are superficially about the Roman empire but contextually they're about the British empire--the decay, the rot, the rigor mortis.

Cars, appliances, laptops, iPads: we love them, and we profess that love daily. Its purest, most innocent expression — but also its most vulnerable and perishable — is the attachment formed between children and the toys we buy them. “I want that!” “That’s mine!” Slogans of acquisitive selfishness, to be sure, but also articulations of desire and loyalty. The first “Toy Story” acknowledged this bond, and “Toy Story 2” turned it into a source of startlingly deep emotion.

The movie started. Randy Newman's 'You've Got a Friend in Me', from the first 'Toy Story,' played over the opening credits and then faded somewhere around the time Newman sang the word 'die' and the screen cut to black. Greg and I held hands. Clasped. Grasped.

And I thought of a line from Shakespeare: I am dying, Egypt, dying.

Then I thought, oh Jesus Christ, Shakespeare? While I'm watching 'Toy Story 3'?

Then I thought, oh. America is on its last legs.

When Woody chose life with Andy and the others over immortality with Stinky Pete at the museum, he was embracing a destiny built on his own disposability. When we grow up, or just grow tired of last year’s cool stuff, we don’t just put away those childish things, we throw them out. “Face it, we’re just trash,” says a bitter pink teddy bear near the end of “Toy Story 3.” Though the movie... labors to dispel the gloom of this statement, it can’t entirely disprove it.

Yup. America is on its last legs. Dying, like Antony, like Cleopatra, like the Roman and British Empires. For whatever reasons, a year ago I started re-reading the 'Claudius' novels, and I've been crying ever since because the story seems so familiar.

'Toy Story 3' didn't make me sob, but I cried. Or, rather, I didn't cry; teared up constantly is more to the point. Teared up to the point that my cheeks felt moist and that 3-D glasses couldn't help me see the screen clearly. The movie was the final addition to a trilogy I didn't know was to be a trilogy. It's the end of a story I didn't realize was on-going until the posters for the third part started appearing a few months ago, at bus stops and train stations. 'Toy Story 3' put a cap on something I didn't think needed an ending.

In providing sheer moviegoing satisfaction — plot, characters, verbal wit and visual delight, cheap laughs and honest sentiment — “Toy Story 3” is wondrously generous and inventive. It is also, by the time it reaches a quiet denouement that balances its noisy beginning, moving in the way that parts of “Up” were. That is, this film — this whole three-part, 15-year epic — about the adventures of a bunch of silly plastic junk turns out also to be a long, melancholy meditation on loss, impermanence and that noble, stubborn, foolish thing called love. We all know money can’t buy it, except sometimes, for the price of a plastic figurine or a movie ticket.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tom Ed Moore's Organ

I met Tom Ed Moore shortly before I met Greg; I found out later that Greg had known Tom Ed for a while.

This was Tom Ed: a wiry, average-height man in his 40s, with a respectable amount of neatly-cut hair, red-rimmed glasses perched librarian-style on his thin nose, a playful Joker's smile, a nasal, long vowel prone voice, with the consonants dropped in like sharp daggers as an after-thought, and an office in the music department dominated by a giant pipe organ. He was also a notoriously private man who never seemed capable of remaining private. Somehow, most of what he tried to keep to himself ended up as gossip, then fact, then common knowledge.

He loved music, which is a good quality to find in a professor of music. I've known professors of literature who hate actual literature, so Tom Ed's genuine affection for the subject of his profession was always a nice change for me--not that I had him as a professor. I would've probably enjoyed his classes, but I never took one. I was too busy learning how to read from a great many people who hated reading.

I don't think I'm talking out of church, as they say, when I mention that Tom Ed, at the time of our meeting, was experiencing a sort of sexual identity crisis. Well, 'crisis' is perhaps too strong of a word; perhaps 'renaissance' is more at the point. Well, 'renaissance' isn't exactly the right word either. 'Awakening'? 'Catharsis'? Something. Anyway, when I met Tom Ed during a production of 'Guys and Dolls' (I played Harry the Horse and Tom Ed was music director), both of us were a few feet away from leaping out into the abyss. One of us kept falling; the other made it back to the safety of the cliff.

During 'Guys and Dolls' rehearsal, I couldn't help but be fascinated with Tom Ed--this languid Southern gentleman with just a bit of fey and a lot of cat in him, leading vocal rehearsals as if he were Madame Sousatzka, fussing over our diction, our pitch, insisting that we not sing the melody for chrissakes but the actual parts written for baritone, tenor, bass, etc. Whatever. I was never a music person, but I gave it a try. Not that I had a choice. Whenever I merely pretended to sing, mouthing the words along with my fellow Guys, Tom Ed would move up to me, push one ear close to my mouth, then give me a disapproving look. "Harry the Horse," he'd say, "thinks he's too good for singing. They shoot horses, don't they?"

Sometime around then, I'd broken up with my long-term girlfriend, announced I was gay, and joined the campus Gay-Straight Alliance, which Tom Ed co-sponsored.

I should point out that Tom Ed was married, had kids. His wife worked for a local spousal-abuse protection facility, doing thankless work in a small southern town (the place was set up like the Corleone compound: huge gates, tall walls, a collection of nice, no-nonsense apartments inhabited by terrified women escaping violent men). Because my dad did most of the printing for this facility, I'd on a few occasions in the past met Tom Ed's wife, and liked and respected her.

Not sure how my friendship with Tom Ed evolved, but it did. During summer--the summer I'd met Greg but hadn't yet gotten into a relationship with him--I house-sat for another professor, and invited Tom Ed over. I did this mostly because I was love-sick; Greg wasn't returning my calls or email, no one else was around, and Tom Ed seemed willing to lend the usual shoulder to cry on. Being actually gay, rather than surreptitiously gay, was new to me, and Tom Ed seemed willing to support and guide me through the messy parts of new emotional wreckage.

The first thing Tom Ed told me was that Greg needed help [insert Greg's back-story here]. "He's had a terrible experience," Tom Ed said to me. "He's not.... It's not a good time for you to be involved with him."

Tom Ed and I were sitting by the pool, the late sunlight of summer fading. The pool was on a hill above the house, surrounded by a fence and dense shrubs and vines and late-blooming flowers. There were dim lights at regular intervals along the path leading up to the pool from the house, and more lights along the fence, and a light at each end of the rectangular pool. The pool lights were the strongest, which meant each ripple in the pool distorted the light on Tom Ed's narrow face.

"Good time or not," I told Tom Ed, "I still want to be with him." For a while, at least. No illusions, even then, that gay relationships were ever for keeps.

"You've got two hands," Tom Ed shot back. "You don't need him."

"Sometimes I need three hands," I replied, and laughed.

A few weeks later, Tom Ed emailed me about taking a quick trip with him to Chicago, to pick up a pipe organ (in pieces) that he'd bought off eBay. "It shouldn't take more than a few days. We're driving straight there and straight back. I just want a companion to accompany me." And so he picked me up not long after. He was dressed in tight, cut-off blue jean shorts, a tight white t-shirt, work boots and white socks pushed down below his calves. "Are we going to Chicago or a gay pride parade?" I asked him. He laughed, then moved his arms up and out, above his head.

"Comfort," he told me, "is always more important than style. Luckily I can do both at once."

Here's where some of Tom Ed's privacy failed. A few days before the Chicago trip, his eldest daughter, still in high school, had revealed she was pregnant. Tom Ed and his wife, obviously wonderful people, told their daughter they'd help raise the baby. No anger, no bitterness, no attempts to force an abortion or adoption (Tom Ed, like Greg, was adopted). On the trip to Chicago, I told Tom Ed I'd heard about the situation with his daughter, and how wonderful I thought it was that he and his wife were being so supportive. I told him why I thought it was wonderful [insert Marc's back-story here]. And he told me he couldn't wait to set up the organ in a shed behind his house, and play it for his grandchild.

Two days in a truck with Tom Ed. To Chicago. Pick up the organ--pipes, keyboard, wood--sleeping in a church parking lot. Back to Florence, AL. I thought about Greg a few times, and mentioned him once. "Don't," Tom Ed told me. "Let it go. Be happy."

Here's a picture of Tom Ed, taken by a friend in 2000:
He died last week, survived by his wife, children, grandchildren and, I suppose, his pipe organ, which I hope he managed to assemble but don't know if he did. In the end, not long after the trip to Chicago, Tom Ed and I stopped having much in the way of conversations. We did a few more shows together--I still remember him storming out of rehearsal after rehearsal after rehearsal--then Greg and I moved up here and that was that.

As was typical with Tom Ed, things about his private life got around. Who knows what was true, though. He searched, always, for a way to be himself; he also insisted on being a good family man. He was full of love, I think, and just wanted everyone to be happy. And he loved music.

Haven't spoken to him in several years, and of course won't ever speak to him again. When I told Greg Tom Ed had died, he cried. "Everything they say about him was true," Greg sobbed. "But you'd be an idiot to believe it."

Yeah, so, anyway, Dr. Tom Ed Moore. Didn't talk to him for a while, but liked knowing he was around. I'll remember the night by the pool, the thousand nights of rehearsals, the trip to Chicago.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Love in the time of Reagan

Recently, for some reason, a status update of mine on facebook (I know, I know) resulted in a prolonged discussion (I know, I know) about Ronald Reagan. I think the original status update was something about Sarah Palin's boobs, so naturally one immediately thinks of Ronald Reagan.

There are many on the left who do not like the guy, not one bit, and occasionally begrudge the guy the one thing he did well: Ending the Cold War (kids, ask your parents!), which he did, but not by himself.

While in office he was known as the Teflon President, but as time goes on, Reagan seems more like a Rorschach President: everyone sees in him whatever they want to see in the world.

Reagan, if you look at the man, was pretty even-keeled. He was grossly out of touch with the America he governed, and perhaps if he'd been President 30 years earlier, would have been a great President. Whatever. Not my issue. I'm not a political analyst, thank god. Just an observer with poor eyesight.

Also recently, Greg and I had one of our out-of-nowhere political cat-fights (they're quite fun to watch, if you ever get the chance to see one) about Obama. Greg took the hardline progressive side, insisting that Obama is a weak, ineffectual leader handing the country over to corporations and conservatives. I presented my argument that the progressives were being petulant, naive children, and that their failure to support the compromises Obama had offered the Republicans during the health care debate, weakening Obama's stature, demonstrated just how blind they were to the core issue: within 6 years, the sitting President (hopefully a Democrat, but who knows at this point?) will be appointing one or more Supreme Court Justices. Those appointments are the (at least to me) most important item on any political agenda, left, right, or center.

I said it during the Kerry-Bush election, and I'll say it now: The Supreme Court is what we're electing when we go to the ballot box. No policy presented by any candidate matters right now, because no policy will be protected until a presence on the Supreme Court is assured.

Here's why, btw: Right now, the Supreme Court is almost evenly divided between, ah, Constitutional Originalists, and "Liberals". Constitutional Originalists--Roberts, Thomas, Scalia, Alito--believe, essentially, that unless the Framers of the Constitution explicitly stated or else indicated with their language that they would explicitly state this or that law is kosher, there is no protection afforded to said law.

Or something. Really, not here to give a crash course in the philosophy of the Federalist Society. I do well to keep it straight in my head; I won't pretend to understand it well enough to write a nuanced article about it. I'll just point out that if the progressives had sucked it up and gotten behind Kerry in 2004, he'd've won. He'd've been a shitty president, but basically harmless, and he'd've probably gotten to appoint one or two Justices to the Supreme Court, rather than Bush appointing Alito and Roberts. Progressives would now be free to gay-marry their aborted fetuses rather than spending all day screaming about how Obama isn't doing enough to destroy Dick Cheney's duck-hunts, or whatever.

Anyway, so you have Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Scalia, four very very right-leaning Justices (one Chief and three Associate). Then you have Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer and Stevens, four left-leaning Justices (tho not so far to the left as the right-leaning judges are to the right). And then there's Justice Kennedy, the swing vote, tho when he swings it, he typically goes right unless Ginsburg sweet-talked him left with some cookies or something.

Which brings me back to Reagan, and the 'Reagan Revolution' often mentioned by politicians and pundits who have nothing better to do with their time (pot meet kettle).

When Reagan was elected, so-called liberal Presidents (Nixon was in on this, so it's not fair to imply what I'm about to imply) had been appointing judges to the lower courts for decades. Right? Circuit courts, appeals, whatever--a good portion of the judges under the Supreme Court, and even the Supreme Court itself, were left-friendly. That's how we got Brown passed, and that's how a lot of smaller decisions were done. Gun control. Equal pay. Separation of church and State. Etc. But Reagan came along, and his advisers started pushing for more conservative appointees. By the end of George W. Bush's 8 years of fun and frolic, a legal school of thought--the Federalist Society--had all but taken over the judge appointments. Well, I'm exaggerating, but there are a lot of Federalist Society members now deciding what you can and cannot do. From wikipedia, here's a quickie definition of the Federalist Society: it is an organization of conservatives and libertarians seeking reform of the current American legal system in accordance with a textualist and/or originalist interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

I find it amusing that my spell-check insists 'textualist' and 'originalist' are misspelled words.

So. What does that mean, this definition?

Well, for one, it means that if you want an abortion because your fetus is killing you, you're shit out of luck. For another, it means that if you want to exercise your right to remain silent, you're now gonna have to open your mouth and speak, for chrissakes. And frankly, if you want to live in a country that is not stuck in 1786, it means you're fucked.

So. Reagan and his administration were able to open the appointee floodgates to the Federalist Society. It's more complicated than that of course--Clinton's a factor--but that's basically what happened (Alito and Roberts worked in the Reagan White House). When people talk about the "Reagan Revolution," this is a great deal what they're talking about.

Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas.

Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Stevens (on his way out--Kagan will probably replace him).

Swing: Kennedy.

Ginsburg reportedly wants to step down. Stevens is stepping down. Kennedy and Scalia are in their early 70s, as is Breyer. While it's possible that all five of these long-serving justices will keep their chair well into their 90s, it isn't likely. And the President who appoints their replacements will either maintain the wonked-out balance of four libs and four conservatives, or will throw the court out of balance (even tho right now is kind of out of balance, what with the one swing going right all the damn time, like some poorly-aligned jalopy).

Progressives want a lot of things to happen immediately. They want gays in the military (married gays, no less!); they want random abortions for 12 year old sluts who've been taught how to fuck by a state-paid educator; they want war to be more difficult to get into; they want everyone to have breast-augmented surgery whenever they want, and they want those surgeries to be paid for by the government. I'm for all that too. But I don't see how undermining our current President is going to get us any of that.

My concern isn't what Obama does or doesn't do, no matter how much I want/need him to do it/not do it. My concern is, the progressive anger at Obama's apparent failure to lead is going to cost the left the Supreme Court.

That's it. That's all I care about: which side (I know I know) controls the law-making, black-robe-wearing Supreme Court.

Reagan, love him or hate him, has a long legacy which is still playing out. A liberal-controlled Supreme Court could go a long way to correcting the awful (yeah, I said it) things Reagan managed to accomplish during his time in office. A conservative-locked Supreme Court will push those Reagan policies even farther than Lee Atwater, in a Laudanum-induced wet-dream, could ever imagine.

Now ask me about Reagan and the Cold War.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Thomas Wolfe never dies, he just slowly fades from memory part 8

#24 Wal-Mart part 4

Here's how I ended up at Wal-Mart even tho I long ago made a pact with myself (which is why I have bad eyesight and hairy palms) not to ever go to a Wal-Mart again: I needed a reliable location to pick up some Murphy's Oil and Armor-All, I needed to be quick about it, and I didn't want to go to more than one place to do it.

So. Wal-Mart.

I wasn't sure where to find Murphy's Oil. Would it be in the paint and wood-treatment section near the back of the place, or would it be nearer the front, close to the household cleaner section? I attempted a systematic approach and stormed through the household cleaner aisles, but half the aisles were blocked off by large men and women, ill-parked buggies, and round children screaming about how they wanted the latest Twilight DVD (seriously). Confronted with this, I decided instead to track down the Armor-All.

Unforgiving florescent light. My god. So much antiseptic, bleached whiteness--the customers and the light.

I found a main aisle artery which allowed me to shoot past the bed linens, the electronics and the womens' clothing sections. When I saw Truck Nutz on a high shelf beside light bulbs, I knew I'd made it to the automotive section. Once there, it only took 20 minutes to figure out where the Armor-All was.

Searching for the Murphy's Oil proved a bit more problematic. I mean, near the automotive section was the household care section--the place with wood stains and furniture paint and floor tiles--to me the logical place for a product oft advertised as a way to preserve, to care for, your household items. Weirdly, these household care aisles were mostly deserted--the highest concentration of Wal-Mart shoppers seemed to be near the food and cleaner aisles.

Meanwhile, I kept thinking about Greg's previous phone call of rage ("Come get me. Now. I'm never coming back here again.") and the fact that he was in full control of his mom's pain meds (not that he would, you know... But I assumed the quicker I got to Greg's mom's house, the less likely he'd be to, you know...). With some urgency, I asked a Wal-Mart employee where I might find Murphy's Oil.

The employee, an elderly man in overalls, with a nametag on his bib (seriously), scratched his head. "Well, let's see...." He pointed in few directions. Each point was less sure. "Now, I mostly work over here, and I know it's not over here."

"Yeah. I thought it'd be over here with the wood stuff."

"Well, you'd think so. In fact, I been telling them this would be the logical place for it. I get 100 people a day asking me if it's over here. 'No,' I have to tell them. And they always look so disappointed! Just the other day, this little old lady--I mean old, you know--" he mimed a stooped-over crone, complete with arthritic claws for hands and apparently fangy teeth "--came up to me and said, 'I've been looking for the Murphy's Oil for an hour now and I can't seem to find it.' And she told me she had this lovely, I mean lovely, old table gave to her from her own mom, you know how old people like to pass things down," (and I thought Yeah, they love to pass down psychosis and genetic disorders--get to the goddamn point) "and she just needed some good old Murphy's Oil to give the wood some life."

We stared at one another for a moment. He was grinning.

"So the Oil is....?" I prompted.

"Cleaning aisle. Don't know the number. Head that way and you'll come to it."

So. Back to the cleaning aisle.

#25 Amanda Hugandkiss part Whatever

While I hated to, I had to say goodbye to Amanda, which we did on street corner next to a Walk/Don't Walk sign. Because, you know, 'Annie Hall.' I even broke out my Woody Allen impression and told the joke about eggs, except it turned out that I didn't actually remember the joke. I just remembered the punch line, which seemed fitting since everything in life is a punch line.

[The punch line is: I need the eggs.]

I was sad to say goodbye. Even tho I try to pretend, when meeting up with old friends for the first time after years of not meeting up at all, that I'd seen them only a few days ago, it doesn't mean I'm not aware of how much time has passed and how much time might likely pass again before seeing them. Know what I mean? Ten years since I'd seen Amanda, and a lot had changed in our lives, and still we tried to make it seem like we were still in high school, that we both were and were not different people from way back when. I'd gone gay. She'd gotten married. She'd battled a life-threatening illness. I'd moved to New York. She'd gotten divorced. I'd gotten a civil union. She'd survived. I'd survived as well. She'd survived more gracefully. She was still surviving. I'd gotten a call from Greg apologizing for not meeting Amanda.

We hugged once while standing on the street corner, the Walk/Don't Walk sign cycling thru mundane suggestions ("Walk..... Maybe don't walk just yet.... DON'T WALK FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.... Eh, go ahead, Walk"). I accidentally grabbed her right breast. "Oh shit, I'm sorry," I said. "That reminds me of the time we were making out on your mom's living room floor, and you shouted at me, 'For the love of god, you can put your hands under my shirt!' I felt so awful--it hadn't even occurred to me."

"Jesus," Amanda said. "I was so subtle back then."

"I didn't need subtlety, obviously."

"You didn't need breasts either. Obviously."

We hugged again. Then I walked east and she walked west.

#26 Prologue

The weekend before Greg and I left for Alabama, we had a friend over for the final episode of 'Lost,' a show I'd been watching from the beginning and that Greg had just caught up with.

The afternoon before the airing, we'd bought coconuts (seemed appropriate), and I spent the hours leading up to the finale trying to work out how to do something--anything--with coconuts. Turns out simply drilling a hole in the husks and draining the liquid does not, in fact, produce coconut milk.

As I worked on the coconuts, Greg tested the blueberry-infused vodka we'd been, ah, infusing for a week or so. Farm-fresh blueberries dropped into a bottle of Absolut vodka, because why not.

"Why blueberry?" I asked Greg. "Who the hell wants to drink vodka flavored by blueberries?"

"What the hell would you suggest? We could've done bacon instead."


Greg, who was standing by the kitchen window, grimaced. "That's so common," he said.

Our dog was sniffing around our feet, completely unaware how disappointed he'd be if I accidentally dropped some hoary, hirsute coconut husk on the floor, or how quickly confused he'd become should Greg accidentally spill some blueberry-infused vodka. Outside, an ice cream truck was moving down the street, its terrible interpretation of a Scott Joplin classic clanging over and over again like a Mobius Strip of Hell.

"Oh. Hey, have you gotten the laundry yet?" I asked Greg.

"No. Not yet."

"Pick it up tomorrow, for the love of christ. Otherwise we'll be in Alabama naked, and that might make everyone uncomfortable."

"Or more at ease," Greg said, and sampled a shot of blueberry-infused vodka. "Mmmmm, by the way."

Then we welcomed our friend into the home, and sat around the living room, watching 'Lost.' And the dog slept in my lap, then moved to Greg's lap, then moved to our friend's lap.

Then the next day we began packing for the trip back to Alabama.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Thomas Wolfe did not rape and kill a girl in 1990, part 7

#2o Wal-Mart and beyond pt. 2

I'd already spent the morning chasing Greg down--a vomiting dog and the chance for him to meet his bio-mom made me happy to do it. Sure, all that Greg-chasing had interrupted my plans, but that's what I got for making plans, youknowwhatImean?

When I got the call that Greg 'would not come back here, ever,' however, I was kinda worried. Greg had had a pretty amazing day already, and had a lot of things to process: a new mom, a little brother, an obligation to his adoptive mom, a barfing barking dog.

Dad waved at me as I pulled out of the driveway and headed off to Greg's mom's house. As I pulled out of the drive, I thought perhaps I was off to rescue Greg. Then, when I hit the street, I thought perhaps I was off to rescue Greg's mom. Then, not quite to the highway, I realized I'd intended to go to my uncle Jackie's house, then to my grandparent's house, and that perhaps I should let Greg and his mom work out shit on their own. Then I realized I'd told Dad that Greg was administering his mom's pain meds. Then I realized.... whatever. By the time I hit the highway to head into town, I'd decided to call Greg.

"Come get me now," he'd said when he called me. This time he said, "Christ, just go get some Armor-All and Murphy's Oil."


I could hear loud banging sounds behind Greg's voice, as if he were striking a large bell. "Armor! All! And! Murphy's! Oil! Get! It!"

By the way, driving? I actually enjoy it. Seriously. I pretend I don't--I've had too many wrecks--but driving without wrecking? It's great. The sun was coming in thru the windshield, and the windows were down so there was some pretty bad-ass wind slapping me and my hair around, and this smell rushing thru the car, this clean, bright, quick smell... I rolled down all the windows, shot thru a red light, and screamed into the phone (I had to scream because the wind was so loud), "Murphy's Oil and Armor-All are two different things, Greg! I can get one at like Auto-Zone, and I can get the other at a furniture store. But to get both, I'll have to go to. You know. That place."


"I did not intend to go to Wal-Mart."

"Well, I didn't intend to have puke all over my mom's car when I took it out this morning. So we're even."

"No. We're not."

Flap flap flap. Spittoon-ding.

#21 Oh my god it's full of stars

Side-note: My mom lives far away from the city. She lives on the lake, no streetlights, no traffic. Water, grass, sky.

Sunday--last week--I took Waffles to my mom's pier. A storm was, as they say, a-brewin'. The night before, I'd walked down to the same pier, and took a good long look up into the sky.

Waffles seemed just as fascinated with the choppy water as I'd been the night before with the fragile sky. As I walked Waf along the pier, letting him smell the water, dip his nose into the small waves, I thought about the night before, when I'd stood outside staring up into the clear sky at the perforation of stars.

The storm rolled in. Waffles and I watched it move across the water, over the trees, pushing against the water of the lake so that the surface bent and broke.

#22 Amanda HugandgetbatteriesfromFred's

Amanda needed batteries. That was it. She needed batteries for her camera, and her camera needed to take a picture of us. "I have a lot of batteries in my bag," she told me. "But they don't seem to work." She juggled several batteries in her hand. She slid them into her camera. Every one failed.

So we walked. We moved from the bench to a path heated by the sun, and got to an intersection. Beside us was a statue of WC Handy--because why not?--and Amanda said, "Jesus I remember you hating that statue."

"He looks anorexic," I said. "I mean, it looks like a survivor of cancer decided to take up the trumpet."

And it does! It's a terrible statue. WC Handy: Great guy. Terrible memorial.

Greg called as Amanda and I crossed the street (slowly). He'd previously texted me, and now he called. "I can't take it anymore," he told me.

"You're cutting in on my Amanda time," I said.

"Sorry. Can you both cut in on my Mother time?"


Amanda and I bought batteries from Fred's, which is a sort of low-level Rite-Aid. Then we took a picture of ourselves. It was the first time, since 1999, we'd ever been together in one frame, and the first time we'd ever realized just how much had changed in our lives.

Change. It's good. Also bad. It happens. I have pictures to prove it.

#23 Wal-Mart Jesus Christ It's Awful Stop it part 3

I'm gonna make this as short as possible. I left dad's house, convinced Greg was about to drown his mom in pain meds, then thought perhaps it wasn't my place to intrude on mother-son matters. Wind blowing into the car. NPR blasting. Scenery rolling past. Trees, houses, bridges, water.

Then I ended up at Wal-Mart. It was shocking: Everyone was wearing pants. In my experience, the people who go to Wal-Mart don't feel the need to dress. Back in the day, when I went to Wall-Mart (or 'Wally-World'), everyone was naked. Naked is, like Salinger, an intrusion, but if you're purchasing 10 pounds of Pine-Sol, clothes are beside the point.


Tom Wolfe really looks great in his white suits, doesn't he? Part 6

#18 To Wal-Mart and beyond

I really won't go into why I ended up at Wal-Mart SuperCenter. Some things are best left unsaid. Instead, I'll just describe the moment: I was sitting outside, Saturday afternoon. Dad was with me. He was shirtless, and already burned by the sun, and the wind kept blowing the patio umbrella around so that it was sucking at keeping me in the shade. I'd had Waffles for a while, then Dad and Marilyn had kept him while I visited an aunt and a few friends, then I'd returned the dog to Greg, staying at his mom's house.

"Heard from Alex?" I asked Dad.

"He called. He's still alive," Dad replied without opening his eyes.

"You've got a sunburn," I told Dad.

"I burn easy," he responded.

Somewhere, an old man spit tobacco into a spittoon, I'm sure. Lazy wind. Shifting umbrella, spinning lazily in the lazy wind. Clear sky. Typical Alabama day.

"Nice day," I said.

"Enjoying it," Dad replied. "Just... Enjoying it."

The house was empty. Marilyn--my step-mom--was out doing whatever it is people named Marilyn do, and my brother was in Florida. It's been a long time since I've heard Dad's house be so quiet, and longer still that I've been forced to deal with an aggressive sun (the umbrella rolled to the left, and I tried to use my finger to roll it right again).

"Got any plans?" Dad asked.

"Not right now. Gonna go see the grandparents later. Try to see [my uncle who just lost my aunt to mortality]. Right now, just gonna be here."

"Here's good," Dad said.

My phone rang.

"That's not good," Dad said.

I fished my phone out of my pocket, saw it was Greg, was slightly annoyed for the intrusion (not every day I get to sit on a deck in Alabama and small-talk with my father), and answered. "What?"

Greg was agitated too. We both sounded pissed off. "Come get me. Now. I'm never coming back here again."


"Now, Marc. I will never come back here. Don't ask questions. Just come pick me up. I'm spending the night with your dad and Marilyn tonight."

"I. Uhm. No, I was going over to Mom and Ronnie's tonight. To sleep."

"I don't care if you're sleeping under a bridge. Just--fine, whatever, I'm sleeping at Rhonda and Ronnie's house tonight. Pick. Me. Up."

After I got off the phone with Greg, I told Dad, who was still in the sun, still burning, and still keeping his eyes closed, "Ok, gotta go. Greg's controlling the pain medication dosage. He can make it look like an accident, I'm sure."

"Don't tell me anything," Dad said. "If the cops ask, I don't know nothing."


#19 Amanda Hugandkiss continued

At the turn of the century, I was a wreck. My personal life was anything but personal--was in fact not even my personal life, but someone else's--and I'd recently dumped my final girlfriend but hadn't yet met Greg. I was living in a terrible house across from the local university, had nothing going for me, and refused to pretend I was content. I'd recently gotten my belly button pierced. 1999. Horrible year.

For some reason, after 5 or so years, I'd reconnected with Amanda. At the turn of the century, Amanda and her then-husband came to my crappy house to ring in the new year. 10 years later, I was with Amanda again, sitting on a park bench, discussing Salinger.

"I can't read Catcher in the Rye anymore," I told Amanda. "It feels like I'm intruding."

In front of us was a large fountain, its jets of water shooting up into the brown/blue spotless sky, tiny sprays capturing the relentless sun. Beyond the fountain, on a grassy knoll, several people were seated, flopping across one another like narcoleptic puppies. Cars circled the park.

"I taught Salinger in one of my freshman comp classes," Amanda said. "It's painful to teach things you love to kids who don't give a shit."

"That's why it feels intrusive."

"There was this one kid. God. He was.... He worked in the research library, you know, paying his way thru school. One Christmas, he gave me a collection of Salinger's short stories. You know. Everything Salinger had done for the New Yorker. Stuff that hasn't been collected in books yet." Amanda stared at the fountain. Once, many years back, I'd gone with Amanda to Strawberry Fields in Central Park--Amanda was a huge fan of John Lennon--and she'd asked me to take her picture. She stood next to the Imagine mosaic. Because I was an asshole, I framed the picture badly, framed the picture so that you could neither see Amanda nor Imagine (or even the Dakota apartment building). I did this intentionally. To this day, I can't tell you why.

"He copied all the stories?" I asked.

"Every one. When he gave me the stack of papers, this student, right, I kept thinking how much time it must've taken for him to Xerox each page. Track each story down. The effort to not write all of it, but to accumulate all of it, you know? It's my favorite present."

"Writing is a lot like accumulating. But accumulation takes a lot more effort."

"Yeah. Sure."




Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thomas Wolfe etc etc Part 5

#16 Puke

I left Dad's house early (for me). The plan was that I'd visit my grandparents, visit an aunt, meet a friend for coffee at the library, then meet another friend for drinks, hang out for a bit, then meet another another friend for drinks. Then to Mom's house, since I hadn't actually spent time with Mom yet.

Greg, meanwhile, was preparing to leave his mom's house. 9AM Saturday morning, Greg would finally sneak away to meet his bio-mom and bio-bro.

Before I left, Dad and Marilyn--my step-mom--asked about Greg. They asked about a lot of things. Waffles. New York. Greg's mom. Greg's bio-mom. Dad and Marilyn have a great kitchen--it's an open area with natural light (it's rare that I get natural light), and a large sink beside a dishwasher, and french doors opening out onto a deck to earth and sky. And rabbits making a home out of a pile of sticks meant for burning.

So. Plans: visit grandparents, aunt, friend, friend, friend. When I visit home, I often feel like I'm in the last third of Goodfellas, where Henry Hill's narrating his day before arrest: I've got to go here and pick up this and then get to that (something else is going on), and then over to there to see this and (why are the helicopters following me) then here and here, and back there, and holy shit I forgot about visiting this and (helicopters, seriously?), and out to here to hug and back....

Driving down hwy 72, I call Greg. It's 10:30 AM, and he'd intended to meet (finally!) his birth mom and 7-ish year old half-brother at 9AM. I was excited, and thought I'd waited the appropriate amount of time for Greg and his bio-mom/bro/fam to meet and greet and sob. I wanted to sob along with all of them. When I called Greg, I wanted him to be happy and bouncy. When he answered his phone, I wanted him to tell me to call back in a few hours because he was too busy basking in the love of--

"This is a nightmare," Greg said. "I'm in the car following them to [bio-mom's] home, Mom refused to keep Waffles so I've got him in the car, and he's out of control--he snapped at [bio-bro]."

"I don't get it. You're following them? Like, stalking?"

"No!" Greg used his emphatic tone of voice, which I always love. "My grandfather was there. My grandfather! I didn't even know he was alive. But Waffles kept--"

"--at the ball park?--"

"--snapping at everyone. Yes, at the ball park. The--I met them, and they asked me back to her house, my [bio] Mom's house, so I have to follow the car but Waffles is impossible."

"Why didn't you leave him at your mom's."

"She said she wanted to rest and didn't want to keep him."

Long story short (I know, too late, but more to come anyway), I met Greg in a parking lot to intercept the dog. Greg driving his mom's car, almost against her will since she'd tried to find several reasons to prevent Greg from driving it. The night before Greg took her to physical therapy and to have her stitches removed, the woman had seriously suggested to Greg that he drive the car around the neighborhood for a while, to make sure he was still in practice.

Where was I... Oh. Parking lot. I met Greg in a parking lot to intercept Waffles, who had just moments before barfed all over Greg's (adoptive) mom's upholstery, and then on Greg's jeans.

Greg, when I met him in the parking lot, was doing what Greg does: Muppetting. Waffles cowered in the passenger seat. Vomit dripped from the back and front seats, and from Greg's crotch.

#17 PetCo

Before picking Greg up on the final day home, I stopped off at Petco (Co?). It seemed like the right thing to do--Waf, without knowing, was facing a 5 hour trip home, a dosage of sedatives, and a lack of food. It seemed only fair that I buy him a snack or two, perhaps a new chew toy.

Pet stores in NYC are different from pet stores in Florence, AL. I mean, it's not as if we don't have a Petco (PetCo?) in New York--we do; I've been to the one on Broadway and 92nd-ish a few times, but the difference between the PetC/co in Florence and the Petc/Co in NYC is that the aisles are more chaotic in NYC, and there's an upper level, and it doesn't feel so much like a grocery store in NYC as it does in Florence.

It was raining when I parked the car and extracted Waffles from the Toyota. Waffles hates rain. He was wearing his complicated, vaguely Victoria's-Secret halter and leash, and refused to take a step on the slick-wet asphalt no matter how insistently I tugged on his leash. Rain--light, sparse--fell on both of us, dotting my glasses and making Waffles' fur speckled. PetC/c/Co's automatic door, some feet away, yawned open and closed as people, unaccompanied by their own pets, moved freely in and out of the building, carrying bags of dog food, cat food, litter boxes, ferrets, a six-pack of mice for pet boas, whatever.

Rain. Insistent, persistent rain. And oh my god the smell of rain--the slightly acrid, fresh but organic, puffy warm scent of Alabama rain splattering and brushing against me. I didn't mind the tug of war between Waffles and myself because it had been a long time since I'd smelled a real rain.

But yeah and so I gave up eventually and lifted Waf from the asphalt, tucked him under my arm, and plunged into PetCo. Petco. Whatever.

The Petco in Florence is very well-lit. I'll say that about it. Very well-lit, and very clean. Up here in NYC, most pet stores we go to are locally owned, very small, kinda dingy, and littered with pet toys. Petco in Florence seemed a bit too antiseptic, a bit too perfunctory and generic, as if no pet had ever actually been in the place.

I set Waf down, and he immediately began sniffing about. He rushed forward, pulling me with him leash-first (obviously), and a few PetCorps employees giggled. "Who is walking who?" some teenage kid with a floppy haircut asked.

Some time later, leash and intended purchases in alternating hands, I made my way to check-out. The young woman behind the counter asked if I had a PetCo card.

"No, I don't."

"Well," she said, opening a drawer and starting a clearly rehearsed, rather dull speech about the wonders of a PetCo card, "if you get one today, you'll save a few bucks, and your..." she checked to make sure " will thank you for it." From the open drawer the young woman magically produced a pen, an application, and a rabbit. Wait, no, just a pen and an application.

"That's okay. I don't live here." And I really just wanted to buy and go--had a boyfriend to pick up, luggage to arrange, plane to catch.

The young woman stared at the application in her hand, the open drawer, seemed to consider her pitch, her uniform, her existence, and responded with perfect deadpan irony, "It's not like we don't have these stores all over the place. You can use the card where ever you are. Serious."

Rather than hug the young woman, I nodded, and filled out the application. Waffles snuffled his own crotch, and I got a discount on the chlorophyll treats and bone-shaped chew toys.


The Thomas Wolfe thing is getting tired already Part 4

#13 Graduation

Greg didn't make it to the graduation--ostensibly the motivating factor behind the whole trip home--because he needed to tend to his mother. Perhaps for the only time during the trip, as I sat in the sweltering sweat-lodge of Brooks High School's gym, I wished I could change places with Greg.

Summer storms had driven the graduation ceremony indoors, but by the time the "class song" was played (some country song by I think Carrie Underdog about remembering precious memories and times lost to, ah, time), I think most of the attendees would've gladly braved lightning bolts and torrential downpours to escape the suffocating heat of the gym. (Also, about the class song: Jesus christ, it's more appropriate to play such things at funerals; the Brooks class of 2010 seriously needs to lighten the hell up.)

Here's the thing about Alex and graduation: He was ready for it. He was tired of being at Brooks. Alex was the quarterback for the football team--that was his identity, had been since elementary, always the quarterback for the various levels of football teamery, and he seemed tired that identity. Also, he was disillusioned; when he at long last settled on the University of North Alabama for college (UNA is in Florence), Alex told my parents he knew he'd screwed up, he knew he should've tried for better schools, and he knew.... something else. I don't think he ever said what that something else was, and he may never say. All I know is Greg and I took his ass to Princeton last summer, and Princeton pursued him with a fervor usually reserved for Jean Valjean pursuit, to no avail. Princeton called him several times. Alex never called them back.

Hot. My god, so hot. I sat between my mom and grandmother, reading my Kindle during the treacly speeches, the (surprise) prayer to Lord Jesus Christ, and the presentation of special commendations given to select members of the class of 2010. Mom snapped picture after picture of Alex, who was seated maybe 20 feet away.

When he finally got his diploma, it was anti-climactic. His name was called, he strode forward--usual long, confident stride, robe billowy, tassel smacking him in the face--and extended one hand for the diploma being handed to him by the school's principal, and one hand to shake the principal's other hand. Then he moved back to his seat and that was that. A graduate of high school. A milestone in a nanosecond. An alumnus of a school he'd spent most of his life wandering the halls of.

At Dad's house, there's a hole in the wall of the hallway outside Alex's old upstairs bedroom (he moved downstairs to the basement a year or so back). The hole was put there during Alex's junior year, by Alex's junior fist. When he took his diploma from the principal, for some reason, I thought about that hole.

#14 Amanda Hugandkiss

Here's the thing about Amanda: She was both my first real girlfriend (relationship modeled on Annie Hall, because I was obsessed with recreating fictional Woody Allen relationships when I was in high school and thank god I stopped at his fictional relationships otherwise I'd probably be writing this blog from prison), and the first person to work out I was gay. She worked out my sexual orientation on her own, I think, but probably was helped to this realization when I made out with her prom date our junior year of high school.

Amanda was amused about the prom thing when it happened, and she's still amused by it.

I met up with her at the library. After explaining to the young woman behind the coffee counter that March of Dimes doesn't necessarily mean the organization collects dimes exclusively during the month of March, I checked the time, realized Amanda was 10 minutes late, and called her.

"Hey," she answered. "I'm just now parking. Takes me a bit longer nowadays to get anywhere."

[Here's a rare instance where I'm gonna respect someone's privacy, and gloss over this one very important fact: Amanda has a health issue that is ongoing and, to me, terrifying. I'll allude to this fact, but I will leave the specifics up to her to discuss or not discuss as she wishes]

When I meet people I haven't seen in years, people who meant a great deal to me at a specific time in my life, here's what I do: I pretend nothing has changed, I pretend I just saw the person a few days ago. It's easier that way. If I think about the passage of time and the events, the changes, the experiences, the growth, I become paralyzed.

So. Amanda wandered into the library, and we hugged one another, then walked out into the glaring golden sun, across Wood Avenue (I think?) to Wilson Park where all the gay guys go at night for companionship, or used to, or something. The park is a small square. There's a fountain in the center, benches surrounding the fountain, and a lot of grass. Also, some tomb-looking things with, oddly enough, the last name MITCHELL carved into them.

Amanda remains a hippie at heart, and at clothing-choice. She was wearing a tie-dyed dashiki and jeans. Same smooth pale skin, curiously wrinkle-free. Same slightly wry, baritone voice, even-keeled and hesitantly sardonic in that she always seems on the verge of being Dorothy Parkery, but consciously holds herself back from full-on withering bitterness .

We sat on a bench, in the shade, and talked.

#15 My grandfather's story

After graduation, my mom's side of the family held a party for Alex at my aunt's house. My grandfather, who may or may not have much life ahead of him, told a story about his time in the Korean war. It was one of the few times I've ever heard him discuss his service. Here's the story, the best I can remember anyway.

"I was coming out of a movie theatre, you know, just got out of a movie because I was [on personal time? R&r? I don't remember the exact word he used]. I had one button--just this pocket right here was unbuttoned, see, that was it, but sure enough an MP comes up behind me and taps me on the shoulder with his baton [mimes a polite but insistent tapping] and he says to me, 'Soldier, you're not up to regulation.' So I quickly button up the button, you know, but it's too late. He sends me to [some guy higher up on the chain of command] who tells me I've got four hours to report to my commanding officer in [Korean city I don't remember, but the city my grandfather was in when he saw the movie was Seoul]. So I hurry off to my C.O., who reads the report they'd given me to give to him. 'Well, looks like I've got to give you some duty to do,' he tells me. 'The dark room needs painting. You're gonna paint the dark room.' So they give me some black paint and a brush and point me to the dark room which had just been built out of I don't know plywood or something. No ventilation, pretty down-and-dirty construction, just a box with a lot of wood needing painting. Now, the only thing I had to thin the paint, see, was gasoline! So I'm in there painting [mimes painting Mr. Miyagi-style] and the fumes... the fumes [mimes groggy lightheaded Otis-from-Mayberry drunkeness] get to me. Oh, I painted everything in that room black whether it needed a coat of paint or not. By the end of the day I couldn't see straight, I might've painted the red lightbulbs black for all I know. I finished and got out of there and they never asked me to paint again. All I know is there was a dark room in Korea for most of the war that was coated with gasoline-thinned black paint."


Thomas Wolfe blah blah Part 3

#10 The gay thing

It isn't that my family tries to hide the fact that I'm gay. Even two glasses of wine into the conversation on the deck, Dad insisted on pointing this out. "All of Alex's friends know about you," he said rather cryptically, "so you know, it's not that."

I was quickly taking offense at the whole conversation, but not wanting to be offended since I've never had anything but support from Dad. Perhaps if he'd been less supportive in the beginning, he would have had the opportunity to contrast supportive/not supportive states of mind; since he had no not-supportive reference, he wasn't able to see just how insulting it is to be called aside and told to closet up for the evening (yes yes, I know I know, it's Alabama, it's a small town in Alabama, and a party for my little brother, not for me, so it shouldn't be "about me". Got it. Trust me). But even now, a week later, I'm still trying to work out exactly what Dad imagined Greg and I'd be doing at the party--did he expect us to strip down to our stylish underwear, pop a few E tablets (rolls?), and hold a Big Gay Homo Rave in the living room? Or perhaps break out a rainbow flag and start selling t-shirts?

Also, I was a little hurt that Alex might be uncomfortable around me, so uncomfortable he'd apparently asked Dad to talk to me. The relationship between Greg and Alex was a pretty good one, after all, and Alex should know me well enough to realize I'm a very low-key, rather private person not given to graphic expressions of PDA.

Whatever. Moving on.

#11 The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Caregiver

Saturday morning. Driving into town. Intercepted the puking dog from Greg, who went off to meet his birth family. Greg was a wreck--bits of vomit on his jeans, wild hair because his mom didn't believe in conditioner but had an almost religious devotion to hairspray (Greg's hair requires conditioner, cannot abide hairspray), was suffering from little sleep, sweating from the southern heat (the sun was so hot and the air so humid that it seemed as if everything around you boiled from the heat and the water).

"How's your mom?" I asked him. "Someone is with her, right?"

Greg said his uncle was watching out for her. Because of an issue with her meds, G's mom had passed out the day before while at physical therapy, her blood pressure dropped to an almost fatal level, and the nurses had been moments away from rushing her to the ER to shock her heart back into action when she finally regained consciousness. Greg had not yet told his mother how close she'd been to dying.

"I know you've got stuff to do," Greg told me, "but I wish you could stay at Mom's. I'm so bored and lonely."

"You have the dog," I said cheerfully.

Greg glared at me, then drove off to spend time with his biological mother and half-brother for the first time in his life. In vomit pants.

(Spoiler: Bio-mom turns out to be both sweet and rich, which is an excellent combination. Greg's life is truly a Dickens novel.)

#12 Random moments

Here are some things that I want to remember happening, but see no point in detailing:

Lunch with my mom and aunt and Alex and one of his friends. At Chili's. One table over, a friend from high school sat down, and recognized me about half-way thru the meal. He was one of the few in high school I genuinely liked, and it was nice to see him if only for a minute.

Drinks with an old friend--a cougar of sorts--at her favorite downtown bar. Among the random topics discussed: the coming civil war, which both Greg and one of her friends believe is inevitable.

Being at Dad's house, alone with Alex for a bit. I helped him try on his graduation gown, helped him zip it up. I love my brother, and wish I'd been around more often. Small moments with him have some weight for me because there are so few of them.

After washing the sheets and successfully placing them on the damn bed (two man job my ass), I took Waffles for a walk in one of my favorite areas of Florence: Deibert Park, which was at one time a very sprawling pasture, complete with a red barn, but was signed over to the city by the Deiberts on the condition that it be converted into a public space. It's in a very prime real estate area, and the Deiberts could have gotten millions for the land. Instead: gave it way for the good of the public. Kudos for noblesse oblige!

My step-dad playing with Waf. In a robe.

Mother laying out the new gingham dress for me special (oh wait. That's Our Town. Nevermind).

(cont'd, ha-ha)

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