Resolutions



Another Bill + Paul cartoon.

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And now for something completely different

Something very strange has happened.


I have run out of stories.


: \


Well, not all of them, but all of the witty, insightful, irreverent ones. I’m going to blame it on Christmas. I was going to blame it on global warming, but we've had such lovely weather lately, I don’t want to jinx it. It’s easy to blame the Holidays for all types of bad things, like depression, anger, despair and loneliness. That’s why people love the holidays. Because they can act like a total ass and then sweep it under the carpet by saying “Meh, it’s Christmas”.


But, I really do love Christmas.

: )


I just wish it didn’t steal my stories.

: (


The good news is that even if I don’t have the words, I have been doodling in Microsoft Paint so I can illustrate a typical day in my life with Paul. You might call it the "Gay agenda".   It’s not so very different than any other couple. At night, we go to bed just like you. Except that Paul likes the room to be exceptionally cold.  In the middle of winter, he opens all of the bedroom windows.






Did I mention that we live in Boston?  But I don’t mind terribly, because this is the type of compromise that couples make.  They do it because they love each other and I show my love by shivering through the night, under fifteen blankets, so that Paul’s restless legs will finally rest. After his nervous legs have slept, they are ready to leap out of bed even before the sun has risen.
The sun could be halfway through its daily journey before my body wants to rise and shine.




 
 
There are some people who can immediately open their eyes, greet the day and start singing. I am not one of those people. But Paul is. Because I find it so very difficult to get out of bed in the morning Paul will snuggle me for five minutes and then all bets are off, as are all of my fifteen blankets. The world is a dark and cruel place when you are suddenly laid bare on top of your mattress in a sub-freezing bedroom.





But Paul is good for me.  He makes me get out of bed and go to the gym; even when I don’t want to go.  After the gym I put my pants on one leg at a time and then pretend that I am going to take the bus to work.  But every day, Paul will say “But you’re too little to take the bus!  Show me how sad you’d be if you had to take the bus.” And then I make a little sad face.
So we get into the car and begin the drive to my office.  Paul loves to drive, so I don’t feel very guilty. He will joke with me and say “Even though I work from home, I’m so glad that we moved into the city so that I could have a commute.”  But I really don’t pay attention to what he is saying because the truth be told, he says a lot in the morning while my brain is still trying to figure out if I am still sleeping.   



But at some point during the drive my brain decides to wake up.  It usually coincides with a song on the radio that makes me happy.


And then at some point during the drive my heart wakes up.  This usually coincides with Paul’s desire to shave thirty seconds off of yesterday’s commute time.


When we get to my office, I give Paul a kiss and tell him I love him. Sometimes he will honk the horn and whistle at me. The rest of the day is probably very much the same as your day. Except that somehow my day with Paul might lead to the collapse of civilization as we know it.
 
Oh, you don’t think that makes sense?

I don’t either.

: )

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The Message

The large white envelope is propped against the lobby wall, waiting. We search for the keys and stumble through the open door; after work drinks turned into late night drinks. I know that the envelope is addressed to me before reading the label. As I bend to pick up the package Paul pushes me playfully causing me to tumble.

“No, don’t. I can’t bend this envelope.” I shout; half serious, half laughing.

Indeed, I can see from my vantage point on the carpeted lobby floor that the envelope is marked with “Do not Bend” over and over again. I stand up, pick up the envelope and steady myself. Paul looks at me devilishly.

“No, now I’m serious.” I say. He can read it in my eyes: Don’t mess with me. This package has travelled through time to reach me. I won’t let it suffer more damage in my hands tonight.

We make our way up the stairs and step into our darkened condo. The moonlight falls through the open blinds painting horizontal shadows against the walls. I want to open it now, but I’ll wait until morning; when I can appreciate it fully. I place the envelope on the kitchen counter and peer through the blinds at the moon and the stars.

****************************************************************************


“Hello little boy!” He has glasses and a small white pointy beard and moustache; like Salvador Dali’s. He is wearing khaki’s, a white shirt and a black bow tie.

“What on earth are you doing?” He says.

I open my eyes, smile and say “I’m looking at stars, Pappy!”

When I was young, about five years old, I would press the heels of my hands against my closed eyes so that the pressure would cause bursts of light to form at the corner and travel to the center of my eyelids; fascinated by the lights appearing from nowhere.

“Great heavens above, there are stars in your head? Come over here and let me show you something.” My grandfather says.

I jump up and run to sit in his lap. His studio is a room on the side of the house sitting over the garage. It is paneled with dark wood. There is a light hanging low over the drafting table illuminating a blank sheet of paper. The smell of paint is magical. He pulls out a dip pen and places a nib on the end of it and dips it into an ink well. I watch, entranced, as lines form on the paper as if the pen itself has a power all its own. It seems to me that he is merely uncovering a picture that already exists on the paper.

“It’s a cabin!” I say excitedly.

“Yes, it is. You are such a smart little boy.” My grandfather says. “Now, I want to teach you something called ‘perspective’”.

This is a new word and I cannot imagine what it means, let alone pronounce it. But I desperately want to know. In my memories, I cannot separate my grandfather, this house and the beauty surrounding it. They all exist as one. The house sits on the edge of a forest overlooking the French Broad River and the Smokey Mountains. The front path made up of mossy stones passes by a gold fish pond. We have given all of the goldfish names. Many times my grandfather has taken us for walks in the forest. His knowledge of plants and animals is as boundless as his gentleness and love, and he wants to share it all.

The pen continues to move knowingly across the paper. Undulating outlines of mountains that are as gentle as the Smokey’s form behind the cabin. Two lines drift above the chimney circling among themselves to form smoke. Pine trees recede into the distance. Then two more lines are gracefully drawn. They form a path wide and open near the edge of the paper and gradually diminishing to a point by the cabin door.

“Now the cabin is small!” I am amazed.

“It’s the same size that it was before, but the way you see it has changed. That is perspective.” He says.

A word became a picture. But, the intersection of our lives was only six years. Not time enough to define the rest of the world through art. I would practice drawing this one picture over and over again as I grew up. All of the elements were there, but the whole was never quite right.

****************************************************************************

Night becomes morning and the moon shadows are wiped from the walls; a new day and a blank canvas. I pick up the envelope and gingerly cut the tape that seals it shut. The seller has packaged the contents carefully.

Finally freed, I examine the book. It is a children’s book illustrated by my grandfather in the 1930’s, “The Three Bears”. Some child loved this book. It was stored away, forgotten and then found and placed it for sale on the Internet. As I was searching for Christmas gifts for my own children, this book appeared on the page, seemingly unrelated to my search on the same Website. The seller listed my grandfather’s name in his description of the book.

As I open the book, like a child, I search the familiar lines of my grandfather’s drawings for a hidden message. Maybe my name is hidden among the branches of the trees, or a shadow of my own likeness in the clouds. But this was illustrated and published years before my existence.

I notice that the middle pages expand out to form a panorama and a house pops open in three dimensions. The house sits at the edge of a forest and a path of mossy stones circles the house and recedes into the distant mountains. It is my grandfather’s house. The beauty that surrounded him every day suddenly surrounds me.

My grandfather has shared his love with generations of children.  Four decades after that lesson I begin to understand what perspective is.  It is not only the relational distance of objects, but more importantly the ability to see the beauty in the world that surrounds us.

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Our 2011 Holiday Newsletter!!!!!!!

 2011 was a busy year, but not too busy to set aside some time to celebrate the “reason for the season” with our good friends, the Bachmann’s and the Santorum’s. Now, I know what you’re saying, “But wait, aren’t they Republicans??” The answer, of course is yes, dear readers, but new evidence suggests that they may be born this way. And honestly, shouldn’t we all practice a little more acceptance and charity during this holiday season? As long as they don’t push it on me is what I always say!! Ha ha!

Anyway, dear family and friends, as you know Paul and I have finished the renovations on our love nest in the city. A little bird whispered in my ear wouldn’t it be fun to invite Michelle and Marcus and Rick and Karen to see our new place? Oh, we’ll have the Romney’s, the Cain’s, the Perry’s and the Gingrich’s some other time, but our place is only 500 square feet as you’ll recall. And really, Herman made such a fool of himself last year that most of the wives wouldn’t dream of being around him once he’s had a glass or two of Paul’s world famous holiday rum punch!!! (Recipe to follow!!!) Last year it almost came to fist a cuffs when Mitt said his hair was prettier than Rick Perry's  as you’ll remember from the Burrows-Dameron 2010 holiday newsletter. Honestly I can’t keep up with Newt’s wives, so we decided that an intimate affair might just do the trick.

Anyhoo, Paul and I scurried around all day getting the place just so. You know Paul, a place for everything and everything in its place!! We set out place cards and had just lit the candles when the doorbell rang! I gave Paul a quick peck and said “It’s show time!” I opened the door, and of course, there were Rick and Karen Santorum right on time.

“Karen, seriously, I don’t know how you do it! You gave birth to seven, oh, or is it eight? children and here you are on time wearing this lovely smock!” I said.

“And Rick look at you here all dapper and festive! It takes a real man to come back here after that unfortunate comment about the people of Boston causing the Catholic Church abuse scandal. But you are a real man, is what I always said.” Of course you know Rick, he got all “Aw shucks” and turned fifteen shades of red while shuffling from foot to foot.

We had no sooner closed the door when “ding dong!” the doorbell rang again! I opened the door and no one was there!! Just as I closed the door, the doorbell rang yet again!!! How odd I thought to myself. This time I opened the door real quick and caught sight of the Bachmann’s just in stitches laughing, I might add, trying to hide behind the bushes!!!!

“Well now aren’t you two just a bird in this world” is what I said.

Michelle saying "Where da' bitches at?"
Me, Rick, Paul and those crazy Bachmann's
Happy Holidays!!!!!
Marcus could hardly keep from laughing and gave me just the biggest hug and kiss. If I hadn’t turned my cheek it would have been right on the mouth too!!!

“Michelle, honey, is there something wrong? Your eyes are just about to bug out of that head!” I said.

“Oh, ‘miss thing’ wouldn’t stop at a gas station rest stop” Marcus said while rolling his eyes. “She’s like all afraid some lesbian might be hiding in one of the stalls.”

Well, I told her to come in this instant and take care of business! She lingered outside the bathroom and started twisting her legs together.

“Paul, sweetie, would you just go and turn on the light in the bathroom and convince Michelle that there are no lesbians in there!” I yelled to Paul, who was preparing glasses of his world famous holiday rum punch!! (Recipe to follow!!!!!!) Honestly, she’s just like an eight year old, but don’t talk to her about eight year olds!

I told them all to come in and sit down, take a load off. Well no sooner did I sit down than I noticed a lump on the sofa right beneath my little rear end. I jumped up thinking I had sat on a pair of glasses or something. Marcus was sitting next to me and was practically in tears laughing when I looked down and saw his hand, palm up!!

“Frankly Marcus, that was cute the first three or four times you did that, but now it’s just plain annoying.” I said.

“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!” I heard Rick scream! He was holding his breath and turning blue, he was just so angry!!

“Oh now Rick, you know I’m going to spend time with you too, don’t get your panties all in a wad!” I said. Well, that only made him angrier.

“Rick now, I’m sorry honey, but honestly you need to be less sensitive about that.” Every time someone says "wad" he is thinking of something else.  Well poor Marcia Marcus had just the most confused look on her his face.

“Marcus, don’t tell me you haven’t Googled yourself.” I said. Marcus started making some lewd gestures referencing a certain body part and moving his arm up and down like he was cocking a gun. “And no Marcus, I’m not talking about that kind of ‘Googling yourself’! Now we all know what we’ll find when we Google Santorum.” I said under my breath. At that point Karen made a little coughing noise.

“Karen, you’re always so good to remind us about manners.” I said and rolled my eyes. Since she wrote that book, she thinks she is the end all be all on manners.

Paul brought in his world famous holiday rum punch (Recipe to follow!!!!) and I saw this little sad puppy dog look on Marcus’ face. Well he always has to have a little umbrella in his drink, so I motioned to Paul to fix his drink and then Rick starts whining, so long story short, we all had Paul’s world famous holiday rum punch (Recipe to follow!!!!!) with little umbrellas.

Drinks in hand, I thought it might be a good time to break the ice about Michelle’s recent statements regarding same sex marriage. I told her it was kind of ironic for her to say that gays and lesbians can marry, as long as they marry someone of the opposite sex. Don’t you know that everyone in the room looked at Marcus at that very instant!

“It’s personal enslavement is what it is…” Michelle started blah-blahing her campaign speak.

“I’m going to have to stop you right there Michelle. Do Paul and I look like we are enslaved?” I said. Marcus started searching the room with his eyes and I just know the poor thing was looking for whips and chains.

“Well. no. it. doesn’t.” Michelle finally admitted and then burst out into a heartwarming, slightly maniacal laugh.

“That’s right Michelle.” I said and then we all stood up as Michelle delivered a lovely holiday toast:

“No matter gay, straight, or bi
lesbian, transgendered life
I’m on the right track baby
I was born to survive!”

You sing it Michelle!

From our family to yours, Happy Holi-gays!!!!!!!



TTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT


Paul’s world famous (and slightly sinful) Holiday Rum Punch recipe!!!

Rick Santorum’s favorite

Removed-Paul says it's a secret family recipe......

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One night in Bangkok

“Tell me Bill, do the surroundings amuse you?” Serene smiles as her outstretched hand glides across the scenery.

We are overlooking the Singapore River. The equatorial night air is warm and heavy. A slight scent of smoke, not unpleasant, from an Indonesian forest fire drifts across the South China Sea. I lean back into my wheelchair as an Asian woman dressed in hospital scrubs delivers an IV filled with a bright colored fluid.

It amuses me that I am in a country where every flight is an international flight. It amuses me that I am as far away from home that I could possibly be while still remaining on this planet. When I look in the mirror it amuses me that I hardly recognize myself; shaved head, goatee and thirty pounds heavier due to new found time indulged in a weight lifting and eating routine. When you are trying to find yourself it seems easier to begin by changing what is on the outside first.

“Yes, Serene, it amuses me very much.”

I can see that this pleases her. Serene is a trim Asian woman in her forties and a manager in our Singapore office. She shows me pictures of her recent birthday party on a smartphone. Two smiling girls, her daughters, present her with a cake, one picture after another, a variation of the same scene. Then a picture of Serene and a man, who I assume to be her husband, embrace and kiss passionately. “Ai-yah!” she says embarrassed, and quickly flips to the next photo. I look away at the IV and decide to take a sip of the liquid. A cool alcoholic concoction slides down my throat. I know this is why Serene has asked if I was amused. She has picked this bar called “The Clinic”, as our after work destination. Perhaps she thinks this is just the type of medicine that I need.

“Things are well at home?” She asks.

It is November of 2007. What is home? I live alone for the first time in my life. Images flicker; a basement apartment, boxes still unpacked. Sunlight pouring through a stained glass window colors my grandmother’s coffin; the new house that my daughters live in without me. Here on the other side of the world, I am a time traveller; living in tomorrow.

“Yes, all is well” I lie.

“And tomorrow Bangkok; you go shopping-la!”

Singaporeans love to shop and when they love something, they add a “la” to the end of it for emphasis. They also love eating-la and drinking-la, which is why I feel so fat-la and tired-la.

The next day four of us, a gay man, a New Englander, an Irishman and a German board a flight for Thailand. There is no punch line.

If Singapore was the calm, Bangkok is the storm. After arriving at our hotel we venture into the chaos that is Bangkok. Every sense is assaulted. Each square inch of pavement utilized by street vendors selling fried locusts, scorpions, maggots and noodles. Unidentifiable scents flavor the air. A man walks a painted elephant in the street. Beggars sit on the side of the road with missing limbs. A mother with a child drugged to appear lifeless holds out her hand for a spare baht. Motorcycles, taxi’s and Tuk-tuks, the Thai motorized rickshaws, honk their horns and swerve perilously below the elevated highway . The air is so heavy with heat that breathing is a conscious task.

We enter an outdoor bar and immediately notice eyes burning into us. It is filled with prostitutes. I tell myself not to make eye contact, but it is too late.

“You handsome man, big!”

“I’m gay.”

“That OK, I like gay.”

Well, you can’t really argue with that. She spends the next hour standing next to me as we drink Tiger beer. I work up enough courage to go alone to the gay district, Silom2, with my new found friend guiding me. The taxi stops at the edge of the district.

“I’m OK; I can go alone from here.” I say.

“You can’t change who you are.” She says enigmatically and smiles. I hug her and give her a few hundred baht. I watch as the taxi sputters off into the night, wondering if she believes the same about herself.

There is a loneliness that you feel when no one is around and a loneliness that you feel when surrounded by a sea of humanity, which is infinitely more profound. I walk through the district distracted by thoughts of all the changes in my life.

“What are your plans tonight, sir?” A young Thai man asks me, attempting to hold my hand. “This bar here is very nice. Believe me sir, I tell the truth.”

“I’m really not interested” I say and begin to head into another bar, hoping to lose him in the crowd. I quickly enter, walk towards the back and ask the bartender for a drink.

“I am a flight attendant for Thai Airways, sir and just on a layover.” I have not lost him and if he is a flight attendant, I am the pope. I don’t answer or look at him, but he continues to talk and move in closer. I have already used the gay card, should I tell him I’m straight?

“There you are!” I hear someone say in a British accent. He is talking to me. He has a broad smile and kind eyes. “We should go for a walk. We’re going to DJ Station.” He puts his arm around me and the Thai prostitute vanishes.

I thank him profusely. We spend the rest of the night together dancing, talking and laughing. At four AM the club is beginning to close.

“I’m going to the bathroom; you should join me or wait here.” He says.

“I’ll wait here.” I say and as he walks away, I walk out of the club and into a taxi. During the ride to the hotel I argue with myself. What were you thinking, why did you leave? Even if there is no possible future, did you get a good look at him? What are you waiting for?

In the morning I fly home to Boston. I climb into bed and sleep for thirteen hours, the time difference between Boston and Bangkok. When I wake up and look out the window a layer of pure white snow blankets the world.

The surroundings amuse me.

I pick up my phone and play back a message that was left while I was sleeping.

Hi, it’s Paul; we spoke before you left on your Asian odyssey there. I thought you might be back. Let’s meet and pick up the conversation where we left off.”

One week later on a cold November night I am standing in a restaurant parking lot in Burlington, Massachusetts shivering while I stand next to my car amid piles of snow. I look up at Paul’s face, seeing it for the first time. It is a kind and handsome face. This is what I was waiting for.

“This is new.” He says smiling while pointing to my goatee. “You didn’t have one in your profile picture.”

“No, I didn’t. But you can’t really change who you are.”

"The smile is still the same though.”

For years I have tried to find a word that described the look I saw in Paul’s face on that first night. Until now, I couldn’t find the right word. But now I know. When I looked into his face what I saw was home.

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It's time






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Giving Thanks



It started with a single post.

One poorly written blog post.

Ones and zeroes circle the globe like the bits of stardust that collected to form life in the beginning. Electronic words on a virtual wall say “I am here.” However you find me, whatever strange search words that you type or links that you click bring us together.

During this season of Thanksgiving, from my family to yours I wish you the best and thank you for reading about my small life on this tiny planet hurtling through space. Our stories matter because we are all connected.

Happy Thanksgiving.

This week's prompt was The writing on the wall

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Mr. Fix-it

You can’t say that I’m not handy. If I put my mind to it, I can pretty much do whatever needs to be done. But that’s the thing; it really needs to be done. I don’t go round the house searching for things to improve. If you were to show me a bathtub that holds water, I would say that was one fine bathtub. Show the same tub to Paul and he would find eighty seven things about it that need to be fixed; things like the yellow caulking or the rust spots or the gouges on the bottom of the tub that make it look like a desperate dog in need of a pedicure was trapped in it for a weekend; cosmetic things. Are you able to wash yourself in it? Alrighty then.

I’m not going to waste my precious time and energy on something that does not want to be changed. Last I noticed the bathtub was not aspiring to become the sink or the toilet. Although, I can’t imagine anything wanting to become a toilet, but people choose to become proctologists, so I suppose anything is possible. The bathtub is perfectly happy the way it is. Some might call it grime, but I call it patina.

Paul does not like patina.

I was perfectly content to leave the metal soap dish in our tub on top of the rust spot. Even though we don’t use bar soap, I thought the dish was a nice nostalgic touch. More importantly, it served its purpose as a cover up. It was left by the previous owner, who was probably a lot like me; someone who was comfortable with patina.

But when Paul installed the body soap and shampoo dispensers and purchased an inventory of those products that would last us one thousand Silkwood showers I knew the soap dish would soon be history. And with the soap dish gone the tub would reveal a pock mark too great for Paul to ignore.

I tried to divert his attention by painting the bathroom vanity, and did a pretty good job too. I just wish I remembered to paint all of the sides. While he was in the shower taking inventory of everything that was wrong with the bathtub, he glanced at the vanity.

“Uh, sweetie, did you forget something?” He shouted from the shower.

I didn’t really forget. I just couldn’t figure out a way to paint the side of the vanity that faced the tub. Who was going to see it from that angle anyway? I’ll tell you who, Paul.

Shortly after that, Paul made an appointment to have the bathtub refinished, and since we had to move the vanity in order for the refinisher to take care of the bathtub, he reasoned that there was no use in putting the old vanity back in its place, or the faucet, or the shower doors. I made certain not to stand around the bathroom to avoid being replaced too, because truth be told, I have a little patina on me.

While the bathtub was being refinished we had to shower at the gym around the corner. On this particular occasion, Paul made a comment about a young guy’s arms and how he would like to develop his own to look the same.

If you are at all the insecure type, you should probably not workout at a gym where the average age of the member is roughly half of your own age. Furthermore, you should not take showers at said gym, lest you begin to compare your body to a newer model.

“So, you liked his arms, huh? I’m sure he’s on the juice.” I said while throwing in an accusing look for good measure.

“They look natural enough to me.” He wasn’t even willing to give me that.

“But, I love my mono-pack” He said smiling while rubbing my belly. I could tell he meant it too. Maybe a little patina on the things you love does enhance the look. But, I’m not taking any chances. I’m pretty handy so I think I can make some improvements; another mile on the treadmill, another repetition.  Now I need to work on wanting to change.


P.S. How do you like my comic strip?  Never took a single drawing class!

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Temptation

“All right Adam, I’ve been working six days straight now and God is pooped! Listen, you be a good boy and pick some colors for all of these things I’ve created and I’ll give you a prize. Go ahead, you’ve got Carte blanche!”

“Well, how about we make this grass green?”

“Say now, that’s something! Go on, keep going.”

“OK, I’m thinking a nice blue for the sky, that’s going to contrast nicely.”

“Well, I’ll be a son of a monkey!”

“A little taupe here, some white to rest the eyes, just a smidge of yellow and a dash of red to make this apple pop!”

“Yikes, I’ve created a monster, quick, give me a rib, son. Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, Ha ha! And Voil√†!”

“Hello, I’m Eve. Love what you’ve done with the place. But, I’m oh so famished. This looks yummy, but are you sure it should be that color?”

“NOT MY CENTERPIECE!”


This is a 158 word challenge, which must contain the phrase "are you sure it should be that color..." and should concentrate on dialogue.

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Sticks and stones

Michelle Bachmann-“If you’re involved in the gay and lesbian lifestyle, it’s bondage. It is personal bondage, personal despair and personal enslavement.”

Jamie Hubley, 15 “You can’t break when you’re already broken”

Rick Perry –“Would you rather live in a state like this, or in a state where a man can marry a man?”

Tyler Clementi, 18, “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry”

Rick Santorum-“I love my children. I love my friends, my brother. Heck, I even love my mother-in-law. Should we call these relationships marriage, too?”

Seth Walsh, 13, “Hopefully, I become the universe”

Lest we forget.

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Losing Control

I think I know why people talk about the weather. It’s because there is nothing we can do to control it. If we can’t control something, then we can damn well talk about it. This is why people stop by my office, which consists of an entire wall of windows overlooking a courtyard and tell me “You wouldn’t believe how nice it is outside today!” Squinting from the glare, I think No shit, Sherlock, but what I say is “You don’t say?” because people need to hear themselves talk about things they can’t control.

It would be OK if they stopped there, but they usually follow up the immediate weather report with an extended forecast. Invariably, they paint a picture of the weekend weather as perfect: Even if it will be cold and rainy with wind gusts up to fifty miles per hour. “Nice weather to curl up with a good book!” They say. I’d love to reply “Or great weather to plan that suicide you’ve been putting off!” but most people wouldn’t see the humor in that.

It is an American thing to be delusional about the uncontrollable. Several years ago I was working at a company that experienced one lay off after another. It was difficult to see our friends and co-workers leave. Those of us lucky enough to keep our jobs yammered on about what a great opportunity it would be for the departed. “You’ll find something better than this!” was heard over and over again. My Irish friend had a different take “This is shit. If I got laid off all I’d be saying is what the feck am I going to do now?” But that type of comment makes people uncomfortable. If you can’t control something, you want to think that it is beyond your control for some greater purpose; “When one door closes, another one opens” type of thinking.

Friends don't let friends quote country songs!
During the layoffs, I overheard one woman say to another “Well, I guess I’ll let go and let God.” To which her friend replied with one hand in the air √† la Christina Aguilera high-note, “Jesus take the wheel.” This sort of thinking rubs me the wrong way so I couldn’t help but ask “Do you really want someone who’s not afraid of death driving you around in your car?” It seemed like a valid question. Can we really believe that everything is beyond our control and that a guiding force is watching over us?

This morning, while looking in the bathroom mirror at the gray in my hair, I begin to separate the things I can and cannot control. When your child turns twenty one, you are forced to think about these things. I turn on the cold water to brush my teeth and watch the steam rise. Apparently, cold water is something new to add to the list of uncontrollable things. It’s right below the inability to control the heat in our condo. Once it is turned on for the season, our condo maintains a steady seventy seven degrees, unless we open the windows. While the snow is falling outside, Paul and I sit around in boxers and t-shirts with the windows wide open.

That night I meet my friend Julie for drinks. Despite being out of work for one year she still maintains the same level of fun and perkiness that drew me to her in the first place. In no time we have downed two martinis and are laughing about her gay boyfriend from many years ago.

“We had this cook book that was displayed in the kitchen with our Pottery Barn china that Scott picked out. Every week he would say to me, it’s time to turn the page!” Julie says laughing. I wonder to myself how she couldn’t figure it out. By the end of the night we have had our fill of laughter and drinks.

On my walk home I think about Julie. She did not once mention how depressing it is to be out of work. Maybe the important thing is not that we lose control, but more how we react to that. Pools of light from the street lamps dot the streets as I walk through the city in the cool autumn night. Amy Winehouse plays on my iPod and I wonder if the entire world can hear her singing. The T screeches towards its next stop, disappearing into the night. A singular moment of piercing truth hits me. This is my life. I am finally who I was meant to become. Maybe there is a guiding presence looking over me. A cold breeze rustles the leaves. I button my coat. Two more blocks and then I’ll be home. I’ll climb the stairs and open the door to our condo, where it’s not uncontrollably hot, but eternally summer and the windows are always open.

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Who's that Guy?

What, me leave? Fuggedaboutit!



Occupy! Occupy! Wall Street we vilify
Anarchy camping, "No Fair!"
It is quite cramping this anarchy camping
In winter we shiVER!


This is a 21 word challenge that must include in winter we shiver, based on the following rhyme about Guy Fawkes:

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…

The emphasis must be placed on the second half of shiver. Say it  as if you were freezing!  OK, my Iambic beat is a little different, but I'm too tired to do anything else with it..There is smoke coming out of my brain.

You can find other entries here:  http://jfb57.wordpress.com/tag/100wcgu/



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Who gives a crap?

Sometimes, despite the best of intentions, I find myself doing things that can only make a bad situation worse. I acknowledge that what I am doing is wrong and then proceed to do it with gusto. Flushing the toilet for a third time in a fancy hotel while thinking this time it will go down might be one of those situations.

Scrambling for towels I start searching for a plunger hidden somewhere in the room. At this point all logical reasoning goes out the window. Maybe there is a plunger in the closet, or the dresser, or the night stand? Then it becomes clear, fancy hotels do not stock their rooms with plungers. It’s not as if they simply forgot to put one in the room, but more of a conscious decision.

Most people would give up and call the front desk; not me. I begin to wonder what objects in the room might make suitable substitutions for a plunger. My eyes quickly dart around the room; the lamp, the bar tray, a power cord? Nothing seems to fit and then I open the closet door and experience an epiphany, the little wooden rod on the hanger that holds pants, perfect!


I just can't quit you!
 
Clearly I have learned nothing from my first round of illogical thinking. I bend the rod back and forth until it is free. My socks are drenched from walking through the water on the bathroom floor. I poke the rod into the toilet attempting to push whatever is stuck down the drain. The rod slips out of my hand and is now floating in the toilet.

I begin to pack my bags. It has only been thirty minutes since I checked in. This is the way I found the room. It seems plausible.

“Hello Mr. Dameron, how can I help you?” The hotel clerk says

“Um, yes, it’s my toilet; it seems to be stopped up.” I say

"I am so sorry Mr. Dameron. We’ll send engineering up immediately.” She says and before I can elaborate, she is gone. I peel off my wet socks and unzip my suitcase looking for dry socks. Then there is a knock on the door. Shit, shit, shit! This is the south; no one moves that quickly here! My escape plan has been foiled.

“Hello Mr. Dameron” Engineering says as I open the door. Does everyone in this hotel know my name?

“Let’s see what we got here” the engineer says while walking towards the bathroom.

“I really must apologize” I start stammering and then he lets out a whistle as if to say what the hell?

“You wouldn’t believe the shit I’ve found in toilets” he says. I want to lighten the mood and say isn’t that exactly what you would expect to find in a toilet? But “Mike” as his name tag implies does not seem to be in joking mood.
 
“I’ve found car keys, bottles, a Polaroid of a nekkid woman, looked like from the 1980’s”. Mike continues. How does he know that the picture of the woman was from the 1980’s, I mean if she was “nekkid”? Did she have Farrah Fawcett feathered hair? Mike interrupts my thoughts.

“I’ll be back with help.” He says and leaves.

Within ten minutes Mike returns with some type of industrial looking plunger and a sidekick. After thirty  minutes of listening to the sounds of heavy machinery and dialogue between Mike and his assistant, which consists of mostly “what the fuck?” and “shit!”, the pair re-appears and announces that they are going to need to “Lift the toilet”. I have no idea what “lift the toilet” means, but it seems that the prognosis is not good.

“Ok, well do whatever you need to do.” I say. They are consulting me as if this is my child on an operating room table. After ten more minutes, I hear Mike say “Ok, let’s flush it one more time.” This is it, clear! Then I hear the most beautiful gurgling noise. My toilet has been brought back to life.

Mike and his assistant emerge from the bathroom looking triumphant, but exhausted.

“Thank you so much. I’m sorry you had to do that.” I say, considering shaking his hand and then thinking better of it.

“It wasn’t you, it was a damn woman.” Mike says with one eyebrow lifted. “There oughta’ be a law against them.” Again I consider lightening the mood by asking if he means a law against women or tampons? I decide to give him a five dollar bill instead. "Nasty things" I say and I can see Mike thinking Does he mean women or tampons?

Finally alone in my bathroom I unpack my clothes and try to hang them on the shower rod, the hanger hook is too small, so I hang them on the shower curtain hooks instead and turn the shower on full steam hot and close the door. A little tip I learned to get rid of wrinkles. A half hour later I remember to check on my clothes. A blast of steamy air singes my eyebrows as I open the door. My pants have become too heavy for the shower curtain hook and have landed in the water. Shit, shit, shit! Is that wallpaper curling? There must be some glue in this room somewhere.



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Mrs. Green-Burger

Dear Shakahari Pre-School parents:

I think we can all agree that last night’s dialogue session on our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding meat products was beneficial. Remember, if it had a parent, we won’t eat it! Even though I’d love to eat up your adorable children! (Ha, Ha).


Warmest Regards,

Mrs. Green

***********************************************************************************

Hello again Parents:

I sincerely apologize for yesterday's e-mail. As so many of you have pointed out, that last sentence was reprehensible.

Most Apologetically,

Mrs. Green

***********************************************************************************

Parents:

Point taken: Would the parents responsible for constructing the “Mrs. Green-Burger” effigy promptly remove it from school property?

Mrs. Green


Mrs. Green-Burger
This is a 100 word challenge for grown ups. This week’s prompt was the photo above (with some photo-shopping....)
You can find other entries at:


http://jfb57.wordpress.com/tag/100wcgu/

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My dinner with David Sedaris

Guess what?


Last night I had dinner with David Sedaris: Yes, THE David Sedaris! I suppose it was inevitable. I mean you can’t write diligently for eight whole months and not expect to hobnob with modern literary greats. As dinners go, it was fairly unremarkable; some type of baked chicken with green beans, but still, you can’t beat the company. Oh, Paul was there too. But he seemed less than impressed.

But I have gotten ahead of my story. Let me take a step back. The evening began with a reading at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, NH. It turns out that people in New Hampshire really seem to like David Sedaris. The place was packed. Never having heard him speak publicly, I really didn’t know what to expect. So when he quickly marched on stage, eyes down, without much fanfare, to say that it was less than climatic would be an understatement.

“Hello, and thank you for coming” He sounds like a Smurf that just huffed helium.

I let out a loud laugh. When Paul squeezed my leg and told me to shut-up, I realized that this was not part of the act and that I was, in fact, the only one laughing. It was a rough start.

He redeemed himself after reading a few new essays and some quotes from his diary and then told us a joke:

A man is in bed sleeping when he hears a knock at his door. Angrily, the man says to himself “Who would be knocking at my door at this time of night?” He opens the door and there is a small snail standing at his door step. “Hello” the little snail says cheerfully, “I’d like to talk to you about purchasing some magazines!” The man kicks the snail as hard as he can. The tiny snail goes flying across the yard.

Two years later, the man is lying in bed and hears a knock at his door again. He opens the door and there is that same small snail.

“What the fuck was that about?” The snail says.

This time I laughed my ass off with everyone else.

But the real point to my story is that I sat across the table from David Sedaris while we had dinner. Well, I suppose I couldn’t really say “we” as he was doing all of the eating and truth be told, he had devoured most of it before we even got there. But you see the line to talk to him at the book signing was about an hour long.

As we waited in line and moved much like the snail from his joke, Paul said with a disgusted look on his face “He talks with a mouth full of food. Now I know why he moved to Europe. Look at those teeth.”

We watched as a woman with her entire library of David Sedaris books told him her life story. He seemed like a cat that was getting tired of playing with a ball of string, only looking up occasionally as if to say “Ok, I’ll bat this thing one more time”, while stuffing another bite of green beans into his mouth. The poor woman did not take a breath while speaking.

“If you act like that when we finally get to speak to him, I’m going to slap you.” Paul said.

Finally we reached the table. I was calm and collected, determined not to make a fool of myself as I handed him my book.

“Hi.” Mr. Sedaris said.

“Hi, I’m Bill and this is Paul!” Now my voice sounded strangely Smurf-like.

“You guys are together? How long have you been together?”

“Four years, well we’ve been married for one and a half years!” I said

“Where did you get married?” He asked.

“Boston, well Ashby, it’s a little town west of Boston. But originally I’m from North Carolina, but I moved up here. Actually, I’m from Greensboro. Your brother Paul refinished my Brother John’s hardwood floors. Your brother has the same name as my husband!” Oh God, shut-up, shut-up, shut-up, Bill. I could see Paul looking at me out of the corner of his eyes willing me to shut-up too. I flinched while waiting for that slap that he had promised me.

I tried speaking again. “Does Hugh get upset when you write about him?”

“No” he simply replied.

“Are you and Hugh going to get married?” I tried another angle

“NO!” He said this as if someone had just pissed into his green beans.

“Do you guys like Glee?” He asked as his eyes lit up.

“Um, sure” I said.

“I thought a new episode was going to be on this week, but apparently not for two more weeks. Rachel and Finn and oh, what’s that kid’s name?” Mr. Sedaris said.

“Kurt!” I said this too quickly, I thought to myself. This was not the conversation I expected to have with my fellow writer. We both grew up in North Carolina and are ex-pats, well most North Carolinians consider Boston a foreign country, and write about our witty Gay lives. But he has chosen the lowest common denominator and is talking to me about Glee.

“Kurt, yes that’s it! They’re all going to have sex in the next episode!” He says with, well, glee, as he absent-mindedly writes something in my book.

“I’d pay to see that Blaine totally nude.” He continues and looks up at me like a cat about to pounce on a mouse. I look at Paul and his eyes say “Move it along, Dameron.”

“Well, thank you Mr. Sedaris” I say slightly disappointed and pick up my book as we walk away. I open the book and read the inscription: “To Bill and Paul, 2 gay homosexuals who are gay and do homosexual things, David Sedaris.”

I look at Paul and say “What the fuck was that about?”

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October 18, 1999

Talk to me Dad.
Here I am.
Everyone is here.

And we’re not leaving.
Until you go.
Time waited.
Uncap the bottle.
Mix a drink.
Now it’s time.

Let it go.
Each breath is a whisper.
All is said.
Voices fill the void.
Echoes in the darkness,
Sing you home.





This is a fifty word challenge for grown ups (we get fewer words this week). This week’s prompt is The Autumn Leaves.

You can find other entries at:
http://jfb57.wordpress.com/tag/100wcgu/

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Life in the bus lane

“Excuse me ma’am, are you getting on the bus?” My question seems pleasant enough. What I really want to say is “Can you un-glue that phone from your ear and control your little brat long enough to make a decision?” But even to me, this seems to be a confrontational question. The type of question that might warrant an equally confrontational reply, something along the lines of oh, “Fuck you.”

So I am surprised when the reply to my pleasant question is “But is polite to wait passengers for to leave the bus” In what I imagine to be a Russian accent. I’m not sure why manners suddenly seem important now that the bus door has opened. They certainly didn’t seem to matter when she pushed her way to the front of the line and let her child perform a Bolshoi ballet on my shoes.

But to ride the bus, is to love the bus.

When I moved into the city, I gave the car to my teenage daughter in Virginia so that she could participate in demolition derby. Every month or so there would be a telephone call.

“Hi Taylor, what did you hit now? Oh OK, as long as no one was hurt.” I would say.

In the beginning, I would ask for photographs of the car so that I could survey the damage. What I received was less of an insurance adjustor’s account of the damage and more of a Seventeen magazine photo spread. Here is Taylor draped across the hood of the car. Here is Taylor with her pouty look. Here is Taylor with her palms turned up with a look of surprise on her face as if to say “What? Are you talking to me Mr. sexy officer?” The car might have been in the photographs. But clearly the focus was on Taylor. The car was simply a foil. At first I was a little frustrated. But as I looked at the photographs, I became more impressed.

“Paul, look at the extension of Taylor’s leg in this one. I think she nailed this pose, don’t you?”

“Ok Tyra. When was the last oil change?”

Leave it to Paul to kill the moment.

I suppose that sums of the difference between us. I really could care less about the care and feeding of cars while Paul assigns them human characteristics. In his eyes cars are sexy or sporty or scary. Basically, they are Spice Girls on wheels. While to me, they are a way to get from point A to point B; which is why I find myself sitting on the bus with my fellow commuters.

You would think that after a year or so of bus commuting I would get to know them. But we each travel in our own bubble. Oh, I recognize a few of them; don’t get me wrong, but not really in a way that you might say “Let’s get together for drinks" or “We must schedule a lunch”, more along the lines of being able to pick them out of a Police line-up.

Here is Mrs. Curry-coat. Her coat smells of Indian food and I imagine that the only coat hook in her home is located next to the stove. Then there is Ms. Baby-Mama-smokes. She always takes one last puff of her cigarette and flicks it to the curb while hoisting her baby carriage onto the bus steps. My, how her baby has grown! It won’t be long now before both of them spit out their cigarette butts before climbing onto the bus. Then there is Miss Awesome! Every time she enters the bus, she always asks the bus driver in the most annoyingly perky way “Hey there! How are you?” and when he grumbles back “fine, you?” her reply is always “Awesome!” While most of the people on the bus do not speak English, I see them roll their eyes when she gets on. I guess perkiness is universally despised.

Which leads me to wonder how product marketing is targeted for this bus? As I look at the advertisements above the windows I see a picture of Demi Moore dressed to the nines in an Ann Taylor advertisement. Looking at the passengers none of them scream Ann Taylor; Target maybe. The next advertisement is a sign that says “Too much Salt can lead to HEART ATTACK or STROKE!” There is a picture of soup cans with little piles of salt scattered around them. I’m pretty sure that the picture is meant to aid non-English speakers. But it seems half done. Shouldn’t there be a picture of someone clutching his heart with a look of agony on his face? Maybe he could even have X’s for eyes. If I were a foreigner, I would discard the words and think that American soup must taste better with a little pile of salt in it.

Soon I realize that the young man sitting next to me is fidgeting while looking at some papers. I discreetly look down at his paper and read the title “How has living in this country changed me?” This seems more interesting than the book I am reading so I begin to read a few lines.

“Before I came to this country I was dependent on others. This country has made me independent. I have my own job. I have my own apartment.”

Suddenly I realize that these people are not just one dimensional. They have lives and loves beyond the confines of this bus. If the lens were turned back on me, how would my fellow passengers see me? Would they only see a reasonably well-dressed middle-aged American man? Or would they look deeper? Maybe they would see my new wedding band, the contentment in my eyes and say here is a man that is happy. Here is a man that found love just when he needed it the most.

I smile to myself and stand up to get off at my stop. I choose to believe that these bus comrades see the real me: the content man, the man who sees more to life than just the surface. These are my fellow voyagers in life. I squeeze through the aisle to get to the door, and my messenger bag brushes the knee of a passenger. He makes a great display while saying “Ouch, watch your bag man!” Then I understand what my fellow passengers see in me. It is not so much of a visionary in love, but more of an annoyance.

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