On My Own

It’s been a week, and I finally have a real bed, although I still haven’t managed a way to make my laundry into something less than a disaster, although it has not reached a FEMA yet. What’s odd is how often I hear something, be it a creaking step or a car driving past, that it makes me think that The Cheerleader is home and we can chit chat. Only problem is that this is my home, but not hers. She still lives at her house, with her husband. As she should. But the fact that I’m looking makes me wonder just how well I’m going to like living alone for this next year. I signed a lease, and I’m sure I’ll be fine, I just don’t like it completely. It’s about 80% good right now. And I guess that’s better than most people’s situations.

Aside from that, I still haven’t really finished my move, although I’m getting the last of it done tonight. Ciao4niao!

A thousand points of courage

I remember once talking with my mom about history. Because, well, it was an odd-numbered grade and so I was failing the final quarter of the history/social science course that was required of all students. This began in the 5th grade, resulting in not only having to redo the project that I had neglected into failure, but also stunted my summer as I was grounded for most of it, at least until I earned a passing grade from my mother on the report. I remember that this report was on the history of a single state, and that I had chosen, and somehow received, Hawai’i (notice the correct punctuation in the name?) and while I enjoyed reading and learning about the former island kingdom, I did not like sharing that information in the format of these reports. Besides, I figured it was about my learning, not anyone else’s, and I learned. So why do a stupid report?

I learned why is because you probably want to be able to leave the yard during summer. Ha! If only I’d known.

Mom, being the taskmistress that she is, wouldn’t let me just write down the info on Hawai’i in a pleasant and lovely format to get a passing grade from her, oh no! She made me do another state entirely, and my dad, beaming full of pride and thinking he was helping piped up and said, “How about Arkansas?” which caused me to shudder and writhe in, I thought, a rather unnoticeable manner. Yeah, no. Eagle-eye-Mom saw and realized this would be perfect punishment. ARGH!

So anyway, a good portion of my summer was spent doing a very rudimentary history of a state that hasn’t had much going it’s way since the Civil War, other than Bill Clinton, and he’s iffy. I hated it. Hated it enough to drag it out in a foolish attempt to make others suffer with me. Didn’t work, and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, finally, the report was done.

I promise, there is a point to this.

After receiving a passing grade given with a lecture on doing homework on time in the future, summer returned to normal and all was right with the world. Until 7th grade, final quarter, and lo and behold, I’m once again failing my social science class. My teacher was so unforgettably dull I couldn’t remember his name all year. Not once when describing my day could I conjur forth the correct sequence of sounds for anything remotely close to his name. I still can’t. I don’t care as much now, but really, I almost cared then. No really. Really! Fine!

Then 9th grade. Same time, same deal. Same grade. Same look of ‘what-the-bloody-hell-is-wrong-with-you?!?’ on my mother’s face. Of course, by now she had to deal with bigger problems, like my sisters, or the impending sale of the house followed by the move, and so my punishment was rather non-existent. Plus she’d learned that telling my father of these minor issues wasn’t fun. He wasn’t around because of the house not selling in Helena and his job being transferred to several different states throughout my high school career. And besides, these were quarter grades, and as we all know, only semester grades, the average of two quarters, was recorded in your Permanent Record. And so that’s all that really mattered, right? My thinking exactly!

In a last ditch effort to get me to give a shit, my mother just talked to me about her fascination with history. She particularly loved the middle-ages, as the clothes were complex, the bathing inconsistent at best, and the plumbing being either the woods or a literal brick shit-house. And with those elaborate dresses, piled on top of petticoat after petticoat, and corseted together into the tightest of all sausages, “how did the women pee?” she wondered, and the look on her face was priceless!

I was shocked, not only for the thought, but that it’d never occurred to me. How did they pee? And what about the men, they wore tights with codpieces under pantaloons that puffed wildly about their hips, while their boots rose almost to the knee in a very Robin-Hood-the-Whore-of-Babylon sort of way. How did they pee? And who helped them do it?

Those simple but profound questions are what makes history and archeology so amazingly tantalizing, because no one ever writes those things down. We’ve never come across the diary of anyone that detailed their normal every day life. The closest thing we have to this at all would be Anne Frank’s diary, but that was hardly normal life. The mundane is missing from history, and so a lot of how people lived is missing. And really, there was no easy way to document these things, and bigger things to worry about.

We don’t write down how a toothbrush works, we just brush our teeth. Even the stupid diagrams on the back of my new Super-Power-Dental-Washer, Waxer, Shiner, De-Stainer and Whitening-without-Sensitivity-Toothbrush package aren’t good directions because they never show the brush in someone’s hand up against their own teeth.

But blogging changes that. Changes it in profound ways. With the bright and courageous musings and writings online from people like Heather B. Armstrong who not only writes about her life-long struggle with constipation, but includes graphic and amazingly witty, funny, poignant observances of how all of her life is lived – from the dog to the child to the husband, Jon who has recently added his voice in a more in-depth and amazing way, to Laid Off Dad and his friends at The BlogFathers who are posting about being dads in this time, here, now, in whatever city it is they inhabit.

They are writing it down as it happens, and that’s an entirely new ability and an amazing gift we give to the future generations of humanity. When archeologists from the year 2386 are digging up old files and reading about the mundane, the ordinary, the truly personal, they are given a real look into a real life. They can hear the voice of a person from that time, know what they felt because these brave people say what others may not even be able to face. Could you honestly write about your constipation? What about your depression that was so deep and scary that your family was prepared to lose you, as much as anyone can ever prepare for that? What about crayons and how they stick to teeth when eaten?

I don’t think I’ll write about poop, but I will write about whatever else is going on in my life. I may change names but only to protect those who need it. It’s a social experiment to write down your life, it’s also very interesting to record the everyday for posterity. It takes real courage to look at all the blemishes and oddities and warts that make up you, and to then, honestly and openly, point them out to others for their understanding, or even more intense, a discussion with them.

So thanks to Heather at Dooce.com, Jon at Blurbomat, the The BlogFathers, Kottke and all the other voices out there in the blogosphere. You might just be writing for yourself for now, but what you are doing is giving voice to the now in the centuries to come. I just hope I add something worthwhile.

A year and a day.

It’s been 366 days since I moved to Houston, and I’ve learned a few things:

  1. Making new friends and growing old friendships are two different skills. You need both.
  2. The best moments yet to come cannot make up for missing the past. Live for the now.
  3. Everyone loves and hates, and you can’t always be loved, but you won’t always be hated.
  4. If given the choice between having lots of money or helping a friend and being broke, don’t go for the money. I have proof that helping a friend is more rewarding.
  5. Some men wear make-up, and they aren’t all gay men.
  6. It’s ok to make a friend cry when it’s from joy.
  7. When they cry because you move out of their place, it’s really sucky, but you can’t stop them. You will cry, too.
  8. Having no furniture of your own sucks.
  9. Air-mattress + bad-lower-back = weird night of almost sleep.
  10. A coffee maker is a great housewarming gift.
  11. After making a mess, clean up. No matter how bad the mess was, the fact that you cleaned it makes it ok.

While I haven’t spent a lot of time elaborating on my living situation, it’s changed now anyway so why give you old information. Are things better or just different? I don’t know yet, but I know that it is the right time to move out. For some reason the universe had stopped me from being able to move out from The Cheerleader’s house, but this time everything fell into place smoothly, so it must be the right time to do it. I just hope that The Cheerleader still comes out to play every once in a while.

Because my Mother made me do it!

Well, here it is, January 18th, and lo-and-behold, I’ve not written anything since last year. I’m almost surprised that I’ve managed to keep my mouth shut that long, but then I realize that the only reason I’ve been non-blogging is that I’ve been busy opening said orifice for the edification of countless morons who surround me with the specific desire to see my head explode in a burst of fire and colored sparks. Of course, that’s me on any given day before noon.

But the launch of 2006 has gone well. New Year’s Eve was a great party. I bartended at one of my favorite clubs, which was nice as I was bartender/host to a bunch of friends who take the “let’s ring in the new year” saying to a whole new level. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen that much booze disappear down the gullets of so few people, but considering that by two minutes to midnight my bar was still slammed, and had one of the guests not said “Wow, it’s almost midnight!” several of my friends and I would have missed the toast, although regardless of it, we were all toasty.

And then, exactly 7 days later, I turned 33. And we had a birthday dinner. And of the 20+ people invited, 5 showed up. Yeah, feel the love.

This is why I don’t do anything big on my birthday, it’s a bad time for everyone to anything. Everyone who missed it has contacted me, so it’s not like it’s a big deal in the long run, but it does always throw me for a loop when it happens. I have warned people to not try to do anything for my birthday, as it always backfires on them and therefore on me, but they don’t always listen. This year, The Cheerleader re-learned that lesson, much to her own chagrin. I love her dearly, and it does suck to have it happen, so I hope that in the future all my friends understand that I have nothing against birthdays, just that mine is at a bad time. I shall have to celebrate it in July.

In other news, I’ve stepped down as the Market Manager for RED as I’ve fully realized that I AM NOT A SALES PERSON. There is no getting around this fact. It’s not who I am, and it’s not going to change. And in order for RED to be the success that it should be, a sales person is needed in that role. I truly wish the entire gang at RED the best, and I know that it’s still the one magazine in Houston that I will read. And it’s not like I’m abandoning them, I’m still doing some small stuff for them, just not going to be the focus here in Houston. For that, you need to talk to Adolfo. And my heartiest best wishes to him, too!

As for what I am doing, well, I’m bartending a bit, which is nice, and I’m doing some consulting work for a few businesses to fix their marketing and advertising, which is nice as well. And I’m going to start doing stand-up again, see if I can’t work that into a bit of a gig. And I’m going to make some money this year. That’s my goal, and it’s not that I want to make crazy money and rule the world. i don’t want to be Bill Gates. I just want to be Oprah. Is that so wrong?

Friends and Family

There are many times in your life when, regardless of where you are and where your blood relatives might be, you find yourself surrounded by family. The more often you move away from a group of friends, further distancing yourself from family in the process, the more often you have the chance of experiencing this phenomena. But, like any chance, it’s not a guarantee, and frankly, lightning and lotteries are more predictable.

For me, tho, family has been a created circumstance in each of the places I’ve lived for any reasonable length of time – even those times when I was away from my actual relatives. Portland, Oregon, is the odd place where I both had and lacked actual family because of changing circumstances for all of us, yet it’s the first place where I can look and find friends that have become more than friends, but who were only really subject to actually dealing with me for a short period of time. After all, the friends I still have from Montana are from Helena, where I lived for 15 years, not Bozeman, where I suffered for three. I still wonder about some of the friends I had in Bozeman, but I’m not going out of my way to contact them anymore, mostly because the last contacts were less than connecting. Those phone calls were really about understanding the phrase “someone I used to know” than about reconnecting with a true friend. And don’t get me wrong, they aren’t bad people at all, we’re all just in vastly different places now.

But back to Portland. I had some amazing personal changes happen while I was living there, not the least of which was coming out and becoming a part of a community that, on such a basic level, understood me. Being gay has many ups and downs, but learning to just be while still being gay is what makes it all worth while. And Portland is where some of my best friends who’ve only known me as an ‘adult’ and have remained in my life. I say “adult” as there is no word for “old enough to know better, young enough to love a challenge for it’s own sake; old enough to give it a go with no worries about the outcome and young enough to think it’s a good idea” but let’s all be real, I’m still not an adult. Both of my sisters, who are 3 and 8 years younger than me, have being an adult down better than I do. Hell, TraumaJane, my baby sister, has been an adult since she was 3.

Phoenix gathered a completely new part of my life. After learning that I could ‘be gay’ and not have the sky fall down on my head in Portland, Phoenix gave me the lesson that while my parents really did raise me to be a yuppie prick who fought for every penny, worked long hours under high stress, and who, in the end, owned a house, a vacation condo, 9 cars and several other ‘things’ as that is where happiness lies – in things – I found that I, personally, lacked the desire. Completely lacked it. Couldn’t care less. Hell, in Phoenix I lived in my friend’s backyard, in a tent by the pool. We called it ‘The Cottage by the Lake’ but it was the tent by the pool. You know you have true friends when they stood by you, as you stood by them, and all of you dealt with reality crashing home and putting you into that tent. And they are still in my life. As are a few others from Phoenix, who collided with me at various points, and regardless of my shortcomings, short temper and amazingly ungraceful lack of tact, have for some reason become stuck on me as much as I am on them. And I love them for it.

Caribou is still a mental anomaly for me. It’s the smallest town I’ve ever lived in, yet it was the place where I did the most growth professionally and, in yet, again, new and exciting ways, personally. I found friends who would walk through fire to help me, and who I would give my life for without question or second thought. I didn’t enjoy living there while I was there as my gay-social life was, well, dead. However, Maine will always keep a part of me. And again, it’s really odd to know that’s true.

Now I’m in Houston, finding my place, changing my life, getting a grip and doing something new and exciting and learning more about myself every day. Some of it good, some of it bad, some of it just fucking odd. Actually, lots of me is odd, but in a good way, and finding out something new about yourself, someone you’ve known your entire life, is always a treat.

Finding new friends is easy for me. I have no issues with talking to strangers, no need to hide in a corner and hope for someone else to talk to me, and I’m not bothered by being blown off as a weirdo when someone else is uncomfortable being approached (which I’m good at avoiding, usually, but there have been moments). But friends don’t always become family, which is why as I move there are lots of people with whom I lose contact.

Houston has something new, tho, for me and an old friend. Family, the kind that you find as opposed to the kind you’re given at birth, is rare. It takes time to cultivate and grow, and it’s fragile. Many different people make up your circle of true friends, and the idea that they’ll all get along swimmingly is, um, ridiculous. Or crazy. Or just dumb. Whatever you want to call it, we all know that some of our friends won’t like other friends of ours, just like we don’t like all the friends of our friends. (Read that again, five times, and then order some dramamine.)

However Houston has a group of friends that’s adopted me, and, amazingly, have also adopted The Cheerleader. It’s kinda wonderful, mostly awe-inspiring and just fucking amazing that this has happened, both from the perspective of this group of great friends who have added us to their roster and that, given how different our lives have been, that The Cheerleader and I have found a group we both agree on as well. And remember, she’s been here for 9 years. That’s a long time to wait for a friend, but this time a whole group to found her, and that group promises to support and love her and me like no other.

And my point, now that I’ve rattled off a damn novel here? That’s easy. It’s the holidays. We are responsible for gifts to our friends, for making merry and for holiday cheer. This is another of the transition years where I’m broke, but I know that I have the best gift ever – my love and friendship – for a whole slew of wonderful people. And even better, they are giving me and The Cheerleader the same things – a loving family in a home away from home. What could be better?

Welcoming back a SupahStar!

Oh happy day! It’s been a while, and frankly, it’s about damn time – Johnny A Go Go has been resurrected!! One of the best blogs out there, with it’s insite and flair, wit, wisdom and wonder, J.Go covers his own life in a free and fun way, even when he’s talking about depressing things like trying to find a date in rural Maine.

The blogosphere is better just for having him here! Welcome back, kiddo!!

p.s. I’ve added his blog to the Bright Spots list on the right. Click away!

An Amazing Night for the Fund Raisers

This is going to be short because it’s five in the damn morning and I’m just now getting in and getting this all in place. The Cheerleader and I went to the Houston Black Tie Dinner last night and had a blast. This was by far the best night of the year, and I’m so happy that I got to share it with one of my best friends. Even better, we got to meet Kathy Griffin who was phenomenal!!!

Janna and Kevin
Kathy and Janna

Click Here to view just a bit of the show. The video was captured on the camera, and from where we were sitting, it was just easier to film the big screens they had in front of us. Kathy was truly awesome!!! WE LOVE HER!!!

What not to ask in times of Hurricanes

So I get a call from a friend who asks if I’m evacuating, and of course, I say I’m not. Not because it isn’t a good idea to get out of the way of a storm that will have 100+ mph winds when it hits DALLAS, but because there is no place to go that is going to be safer without leaving the state, really. And I didn’t leave in time for that. Right now, it’s taking about 8 hours to travel 15 miles on parts of the freeways that lead away from the coast.

So then he asks, “How are you preparing?”

“I’m getting a lawn chair and a kite and I’m going to try for a free trip to Bermuda. HOW. DO. YOU. THINK!?!”

But I’m perfectly calm.

The Hurricane Drinking Game!

Well, they tell you to prepare for Mother Nature by getting the essentials – candles, canned goods, and water. And of course, duct tape. You have to have duct tape. But, seeing as how everyone that lives in the Gulf Coast of Texas has dealt with this before, as opposed to those of us who think people who live in the paths of hurricanes are fucking bonkers, well, they have bought up everything. Absolutely everything.

So at the local Target today, I spent a bit of time getting some essentials, like soda, fruit, salad, and beer. Because when you can’t find water, beer is the next best thing, right? Right. Absolutely right. Especially because, as you might have guessed, if I don’t have booze during times of crisis, it’s not going to be Mother Nature that you have to worry about. It’s going to be me! So I’m going to be lit, like the candles, and frankly, we’re going to watch the storm come in and go. And all will be well.

I have decreed it. So shall it be. I will, of course, keep everyone updated as much as possible, so do check back often! And yes, I realize that I’m fucking bonkers, too.